Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The cupboard is bare: one half a loaf for each of us

Worldwide grain production is up 4% from last year, some 2.3 billion tons worldwide, but, it won't be enough to build up countries' grain reserves, already at their lowest point in 30 years.
According to World Watch Institute, "Despite the record harvest, low stocks and strong demand combined to push prices of all cereals to new highs.At harvest time, U.S. corn export price was up about 70% from the previous year, while the American hard wheat5 price averaged 65$ more than a year earlier." The same is true in grain- producing countries around the globe.

Here at home, if you think that a significant portion of those amber waves of grain are in the stocks of the U.S. grain reserves, well, that's not exactly correct. Right now the U.S. has about 27 billion bushels of wheat in reserve. But we are about to sell more than eleven-twelths of that reserve, leaving the U.S. with only 2.7 million bushels. That's half a loaf for every person living in the U.S.

"Our concern is not that we are using the remainder of our strategic grain reserves for humanitarian relief," Larry Matlack, President of the American Agricultural Movement said last week. "AAM fully supports the action and all humanitarian aid relief. Our concern is that the U.S. has nothing else in our emergency food pantry. There is no cheese, no butter, no dried milk powder, no grains or anything else left in reserve." FourWinds10.

Funny how many different ways wealth can be defined. When my younger daughter's father and I lived in Maine, we had four 55 gallon tin barrels lined with plastic and filled with rice, wheat and buckwheat. I used to thrust my arms up to the elbow in a barrel and feel incredibly wealthy.

Corn now sells for over $5 a bushel, up from under $2 in 2006. That means that any food product that uses corn as an ingredient will continue to climb in price, especially now that 20% of the Midwest's corn crop has been damaged by flooding. If you want to save money on food, avoid those that use corn. Make your own granola. And learn to love a variety of grains.

No comments: