Monday, March 9, 2009

A Perfect Storm

Food. Water. Shelter. Clothing. Heat.

When you strip away all of the “like to have’s”, “nice to have’s”, “want to have’s”, and even the “need to have’s”, you’re left with a very finite group called the “must have’s”.

Although our culture has evolved to a point where most people have erroneously expanded this group of “must have’s” to include things like cars, cable TV, and cell phones, if push ever comes to shove, our expectations will be reset very quickly to what the true “must have’s” really are:

Food. Water. Shelter. Clothing. Heat.

I get very interested when I see things “in play” that affect any of the things in this very basic group, so you might imagine my curiosity when I notice several things happening that all affect a single one of them.

In 1997, Sebastian Junger wrote a book called “The Perfect Storm” which chronicled the events of a devastating 1991 Nor’easter in which three separate weather systems converged at a single point off the coast of New England to create a storm of unprecedented magnitude. Since then, the phrase “perfect storm” has come to refer to any simultaneous occurrence of events which, taken individually, would be far less powerful than the result of their chance combination.

Should we be concerned then, if three (or more) separate “events” – each of which already possess huge ramifications on our food supply – have the potential to also converge at a single point?

Speculation (You Can’t Afford the Corporate Food)

We’ve all seen what happens when a commodity becomes involved in a speculative frenzy. Just in the last few years we’ve seen housing & oil prices driven to ridiculous heights based purely on speculation. There was never a “shortage” of either; just a mad dash to drive prices up and cash in as quickly as you could before the bottom dropped out.

What if food became the next commodity to be manipulated by “investors” and “speculators”? What if food prices are the next to be driven up to ridiculous heights for no other reason than to satisfy the greed of corporate America? I’m not talking about profits, I’m talking about obscene profits, much like were made in both housing & oil. There is evidence that we are already on the verge:

Food Is Gold, So Billions Invested in Farming

John Kinsman: Nation's food system nearly broke

Regulation (You Can’t Buy the Local Food)

This is interesting because the regulations being proposed are meant to protect us from “bad” food. I count almost two dozen instances of salmonella & e-coli tainted food in just the last couple of years (tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, peanuts, dog food, milk, etc., etc.).

These regulations are meant to protect us by instituting more stringent rules on food production. But the result of these regulations – which large agribusinesses will be able to meet or cheat easily – will be that many smaller farms will be put out of business, simply because they can’t comply with the new standards.

Funny how all of those instances of tainted food came from the large agribusinesses - not the small independent farmers - yet it is the small farmers who will essentially be punished by the regulations created from the incompetence of corporate America.

FDA asks lawmakers for more regulatory powers

Plot to Control U.S. Food Supply

Termination (You Can’t Grow Your Own Food)

Well, if you can't afford to buy it from the grocery store, and there are no local farmers to buy your food from, you can always grow it yourself, right?

But what if you couldn’t?

Forget that most people have no idea how to grow food. Forget too that most people have no place to grow it even if they did. What if you couldn’t even get seeds to plant, or couldn’t legally grow them if you could?

What if you were forced to purchase new seeds every year because the plants you did grow didn’t create any new seeds at all? What would happen if the owners of these patented seeds decided that they didn't want to make them available to the general public?

Farfetched? Just do a search on “patented seed” and “terminator seed”; you’ll discover more than you ever wanted to know.

That’s just three of the separate “weather systems” floating around that can (will) affect that “must have” known as food. I haven’t even touched on taxation. Or inflation. Or . . .

I wonder what would happen if they all converged together to form one great big perfect storm?

No comments: