Saturday, April 19, 2014

Food prices rising dramatically, food scarcity affecting many

Revelation 6:8 in the KJV says that one of the judgments God will hurl at the earth is death by hunger. Just above that verse is one where it is seen that a purchase of enough wheat for the day costs a day's wage. (Revelation 6:6). Food will be an issue in the Tribulation.

It takes time for famine to set up. It begins with drought.

"The cause of droughts is easily understood, but hard to prevent. Depending on the location, crop failures, famine, high food prices, and deaths can occur. One of the scariest parts of a drought is the onset time. Unlike other forms of severe weather or natural disasters, droughts often develop slowly. Droughts are caused by a depletion of precipitation over time. Unlike a dry spell, prolonged lack of rain will cause regions around the world to slowly dry out. Because of the slow onset of droughts, their cost is often only estimated." (Source)

Drought in the Wheatlands, W. Australia, 2010,
Phillip Capper picture, CC
In the article below, a dramatic rise in beef prices is attributed to drought. How is beef tied in with water, one may wonder? The complex systems involved in food production are many, and they are delicately intertwined. For example, weather (atmospheric conditions), ground conditions, (soil, fertilizer, seed quality), breeding stock if raising animals, transportation systems, and consumer demand are just a very few. Oftentimes, one string of the intertwining system involved in food production isn't particularly visible but is being dramatically affected somewhere along the line, only to surface all of a sudden. But the set-up was years in the making. This article is from last week:

Beef prices hit all-time high in U.S.
Come grilling season, expect your sirloin steak to come with a hearty side of sticker shock. Beef prices have reached all-time highs in the U.S. and aren't expected to come down any time soon. Extreme weather has thinned the nation's beef cattle herds to levels last seen in 1951, when there were about half as many mouths to feed in America. ... Soaring beef prices are being blamed on years of drought throughout the western and southern U.S. The dry weather has driven up the price of feed such as corn and hay to record highs, forcing many ranchers to sell off their cattle. That briefly created a glut of beef cows for slaughter that has now run dry.

It's not only beef that is being affected. Pork is undergoing a dramatic rise in price at the consumer end, too. This Michigan farmer lost 5000 pigs.

Bacon, Pork Prices Rise As Deadly Diarrhea Virus Wipes Out Michigan Pigs
A virus that kills piglets at an alarming rate has been found on 93 farms in Michigan, according to the state agriculture department. Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association, said porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is not a human health concern, but is deadly to newborn pigs. “This is not a food safety issue,” Hines told WWJ’s Marie Osborne. “Most hogs do acquire the virus but bigger animals can recover from it. Pigs that are less than a month old will have such a severe diarrhea that they dehydrate. There’s nearly 100 percent mortality with pigs less than three-weeks of age.

Beef and pork are two sources of protein for the American consumer, as well as many others. I have a friend who runs a BBQ place. She has had to raise prices this week and revise the menus. They hate to do it but the rise in prices for the meat has to at least be partially passed on at some point. The problem is not just "out there," and the problem is not just facing you individually at the grocery store. It affects business owners too.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports this month that "in March, retail food prices rose 0.4% from the preceding month, matching February’s increase. These marked the largest monthly gains in food prices since September 2011..." This is from an article titled 'The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices'. As mentioned above, bacon and beef were the #1 and #2 fastest rising food price (no more inexpensive BLTs or hamburgers from the diner!). The rest are:

3. oranges
4. coffee
5. peanut butter
6. margarine
7. wine
8. turkey
9. chicken
10. grapefruit

You notice that 5 out of the 10 items listed ad having dramatic price increases are proteins (beef, bacon, turkey, chicken, peanut butter). As for the citrus, here is an article explaining the citrus crop failure. Sometimes it's not drought that causes it, but disease.

Wikimedia commons photo

US Orange production hit by disease, prices soar
"New York (AFP) - A citrus disease spread by a tiny insect has devastated Florida's orange crop, which is expected to be the worst in nearly 30 years, and sent juice prices soaring on New York markets. The culprit? The gnat-sized Asian citrus psyllid, which is infecting citrus trees across the Sunshine State with huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, which causes fruit to taste bitter and fall from trees too soon. ...Citrus greening disease has become such a problem this year that the US government has lowered its forecast for the upcoming harvest four times."

Citrus isn't the only produce item whose prices are leaving families in the dust. This Wall Street Journal article reports rising prices in many other produce areas too. In this case, the culprit is drought, After three years, the soil fatigue and lack of precipitation is finally taking its toll.

The cost of fresh produce is poised to jump in the coming months as a three-year drought in California shows few signs of abating, according to an Arizona State University study set to be released Wednesday. The study found a head of lettuce could increase in price as much as 62 cents to $2.44; avocado prices could rise 35 cents to $1.60 each; and tomatoes could cost 45 cents more at $2.84 per pound. (The run-up in produce prices is in line with other projections showing that overall food cost gains are expected to accelerate this year.)

And finally, it's not only beef, pork, citrus and other produce that are showing rising prices at the retail end, but seafood as well.

Wikimedia Commons, author Ramiroja
Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well...

Goodness, pretty soon we won't be able to afford anything except crackers! And probably not even that either! Friends have started keeping chickens (for the eggs). Some are taking up hunting. Others who never planted gardens before are doing so now. Most people I know have cut back on going to restaurants and are cooking at home. Prairie mother blogs are booming, and food co-ops are bustling.

I am a vegetarian so I am not affected by any loss of meat or seafood in my diet, but I do rely on eggs, peanut butter and tofu, all of which have increased in price. I also use a lot of quinoa, a super-grain that is a complete protein. I bought a can of salmon (the first one in half a year, and ouch, the price has gone up so much! And it wasn't the fancy kind but the kind that takes a long time to clean because it is full of skin and fish bones). Anyway, I made salmon-quinoa patties today, they are great.

EPrata photo
Quinoa is good for hot cereal in the morning with apples and raisins, and it is a very filling salad accompaniment at lunch with a sandwich.

Another complete protein is hummus and pita bread, and amazingly my local mom and pop grocery store has started carrying hummus, and blessedly at a reasonable price, too. They also carry tofu,  something of a miracle in my redneck, pig-hunting, BBQ eating county. Tofu is an always-difficult food item to work with but it's a must for vegetarians looking for protein and at a good price. Beans and rice are another complete protein as well.

So the above were some suggestions for alternatives to the ever-expensive meat. You can always raise chickens or rabbits for meat and learn to pluck and cook them. The time of squeamishness and picky eating appears to be at an end. Hunger will do that to a person.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the biggest blessing to me that has come along in decades. It is a produce co-op called Bountiful Baskets. For a low price of $21.50 you will receive a basket of fruit and a basket of vegetables. The charge is broken down in the following manner:

$15.00 for the food, and $6.50 for the fee; 1.50 is processing and administration and the other $5 is for fuel for the truck. If you order with a friend you can split the $6.50. You can order up to three baskets in one order and so three friends split it, bringing my cost down to $17.20.

Bountiful Baskets is described this way: "BBFC is a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is a grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food."

I know what you're thinking, but there really is no catch, and the produce is the best I've ever seen. I have been a life-long vegetarian and this basket of produce I get every two weeks is the pot of gold at the end of my vegetarian rainbow. The amount received exceeds what I'd be able to duplicate at the store in cost and in quality. It is healthy, lasts a long time, and is of excellent quality. You do not have to sign a contract and you're not committed in any way. Here is a photo of some recent Baskets. The only catch is that you get what you get, you can't order what you want. But it's always so good that it takes a small adjustment in attitude toward food preparation and you're set. We are all undergoing attitude adjustments to our approach to food these days anyway, so please keep an open mind.


Facebook Danielsville Co-op (Bountiful Basket chapter)
Go to the BB link above and click on locations to see if a local co-op exists in your area. If it doesn't, it is very easy to join and set one up for your town. If you google Bountiful Baskets you will find a plethora of articles exclaiming over its popularity and explosive growth. The only problem is that as the program catches on in each area, and there is a limit of 95 baskets for each co-op chapter, the competition to get a basket grows. When the pay-window for that week's basket opens, some sites sell out in minutes, unfortunately.

We are all being pinched by food inflation. In my county, a Federal program grants money for a summer lunch program. Our School Nutrition Program workers were hoping to feed at least 5000 children last summer, they fed 12,000. Blessedly, we received the grant again and the summer 'feed the children' summer lunch program will continue.

I've written about food several times over the years. In the past, when I've written about it or mentioned it, some have scoffed, not seeing a difference in their local area. By 2014, most people see great changes, and are experiencing adjustments in either minor or major ways. The pain at the grocery check out is no longer spotty or local or "elsewhere". It's everywhere.

Man-made global warming is a crock but the climate IS changing. Extreme weather is a fact, and this affects food production on all fronts (farming, animals, and fishing). In 2012, this article from the UK Guardian said that food scarcity is a timebomb waiting to go off. In my opinion, recent events have shown that the fuse is very short.

This situation is not going to go away,” says Lester Brown, an environmental analyst and president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. In a new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates, he predicts ever increasing food prices, leading to political instability, spreading hunger and, unless governments act, a catastrophic breakdown in food. “Food is the new oil and land is the new gold,” he says. We saw early signs of the food system unravelling in 2008 following an abrupt doubling of world grain prices. As they climbed, exporting countries [such as Russia] began restricting exports to keep their domestic prices down. In response, importing countries panicked and turned to buying or leasing land in other countries to produce food for themselves. The result is that a new geopolitics of food has emerged, where the competition for land and water is intensifying and each country is fending for itself.

What do you think is going to happen after the rapture, when the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit ceases, food becomes scarce-to-non-existent as the verses from Revelation show us, and sin is rampant? I shudder to even think! I believe it is clear that the LORD's work in setting up the coming Tribulation famine is well underway. The iceberg has finally poked through the surface of the water and the existence of a mountain of conditions for massive food failure is here.

Meanwhile we Christians continue to adjust our pocketbooks and attitudes, keep lowering our expectations for the meal time, keep sharing what we have, and keep looking up. Only God knows how tight He will draw the tension we will experience before we fly up to Him in the rapture, but it is to His glory that until the moment we do, we always glorify Him in every circumstance. So whether it's dandelion weeds on our plate or Kobe steak, we say, thank you Jesus for Your provision and may your glory be ever bright in our hearts and praise continually on our lips.


9 comments :

  1. high number of foods being affected by disease. wonder if this is another series of events orchestrated by our wonderful leaders.

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  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm not sure how you mean, our leaders introduce disease into our food?

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  3. I think this is so timely - I've been observing some of these trends lately. Stores like Whole Foods Market not being able to get organic apples, the other day Trader Joe's didn't have plain old popcorn - something to do with their farmers crop being tainted with GMOs. Last week our butcher had to raise prices due to said beef and pork issues - went up to $4.59 a pound. We eat only real food - no processed - and no grain - for dealing with targeted health issues, and I am frankly a little nervous about our ability to continue when we eat 3-4 pounds of meat as a family for a supper and the following lunch, which amounts to $16-20 a day just for meat. Not even factoring in everything else we eat. I am anxiously awaiting the start of gardening. But any which way, as you said, Praise Jesus for the provision. Happy Resurrection Day to you! Heather

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  4. I think all we can do is to reply on God for our needs. If we trust in Him he has promised to take care of the things we need. Perhaps this will help:

    http://www.raptureforums.com/FeaturedCommentary/livingthechristianlifeinhardtimes.cfm

    God bless.

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  5. As man embraces the lie, increasingly God will allow it. Without the keeping grace of God every created thing will wither.

    Jeremiah 7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

    19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?

    20 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.

    Today especially, I will examine my observances that I will not profane that which God has established. I have chosen to resist that which seeks to blend itself with the truth. Resist tradition.
    jeff

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    1. Exactly! The more I open my eyes, the more I see just where the traditions come from. Rev 18:4-5: "And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her(/Babylon), my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached[b] to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." Heather

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  6. Hi Elizabeth, very interesting post, I recently saw some of these headlines hit the news. Even in rural areas, where people in theory can raise their own food, all God has to do is shut the sky, and/or send some nasty little critters/infestations, and all the hard work is for naught.

    Truly as Romans 1 says, man has failed to thank God and give Him the glory, so He takes His blessings away. One of which is a bountiful harvest.

    One quick note for you and your readers - while plant foods can definitely be combined to make complete proteins, one important thing plant foods lack is vitamin B12. Elizabeth, since you eat eggs, and sometimes fish (and milk?), you probably wouldn't be at as much of a risk as a very strict vegan would be. Care needs to be taken to ensure proper B12 intake for those who are strict vegan. Fortunately it's easy to supplement.

    -Carolyn

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  7. Hi Elizabeth, a ps, an encouragement for all of us:

    Matthew 6
    25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? ... 31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will wear for clothing?' 32 ...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    -Carolyn

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  8. Hi Carolyn,

    Thanks for the good reminder about no glory-no blessings. The Lord is in control of it all, isn't He!

    I do eat eggs and dairy so I'm not a strict vegan. Thanks very much for the reminder about vitamin B12. That's good to know.

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