Monday, October 27, 2008

Hard Times

Locally here in Ann Arbor, statewide in Michigan, and nation-wide, organizations that help feed people in difficult situations are experiencing greater and greater demand. The financial markets seem to crash right on top of the food markets, creating desperation among the most vulnerable.

"While the world's attention has been focused on rescuing investment banks and stock markets from collapse, the global food crisis has worsened, a casualty of the growing financial tumult." So states an article in the Washington Post: Financial Meltdown Worsens Food Crisis: As Global Prices Soar, More People Go Hungry.

Recent globalism -- integration of economies at many levels -- has made many people more dependent on food grown outside their immediate community, outside their region, or outside their country. Population growth is only one of the factors causing this widespread dependence beyond local food supplies. A variety of policies and interests have combined to create a fragile situation.

In reading about the famines of the past, I have found to my amazement that a very large number of them were due to politics and to political theories applied heartlessly. In the 19th century, the famous Irish potato famine started when potato crops failed and stocks of potatoes rotted due to micro-organisms; however, the British rulers of Ireland could have fed the starving Irish people. British politicians believed in the free market, so they declined to do so, and mass starvation and emigration followed. Are we going to see a 21st century re-run? I really don't understand current globalism enough to foresee what is going to happen.

1 comment:

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This was also true of the breadbasket famine in the Soviet Union in the '30s.

We must go back to local and diverse farming practices and work towards feeding our own countries again.