There are a few reasons for the rising food prices and the looming world food crisis. The growing middle class in places such as India and China has led to an increase in the consumption of meat, which means an increase in grain used for animal feed. Rising energy costs and biofuels are also to blame; corn fields for alternative fuel have replaced other food crops.
The cost of rice the staple food for half the world has doubled over the past year, and increased five-fold over the past five years, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Americans might be paying attention to the situation because they've noticed their grocery bills going up. But in some countries the crisis doesn't just mean you're paying more for bread. It means you can't get your hands on any.
Deadly food riots have broken out in several countries. Protesters in Haiti shut down their capital on Tuesday, according to a Time magazine article. The article says that the cost of staple foods has risen some 50% in Haiti since last year, which is a lot anywhere, but particularly in a country where three-quarters of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Violent protests over rising food prices have occurred in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal, and Morocco over the past few weeks, according to The Economic Times.
In a New York Times editorial today, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, is quoted from a statement he made last week warning that 33 nations were at risk for social unrest due to rising food prices: For countries where food comprises from half to three-quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival."
The editorial goes on to state that the issue in these poorer countries is that people spend so much of their income on food: Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half.
The writer suggests that rich nations should stop rewarding ethanol producers with subsidies: "At best, corn ethanol delivers only a small reduction in greenhouse gases compared with gasoline. And it could make things far worse if it leads to more farming in forests and grasslands."
There has been no better time to look at our diets. In an ABC article titled "The Climate Change Diet," the writer offers suggestions from a British Medical Association report regarding the changes we'll need to make in our diets to cope with climate change:
For more tips on greening your diet, check out our article 30 Days to Green Your Diet.
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