Thursday, 17 April 2008

Price of Rice not Nice

And it is not just rice: corn, wheat, soy and other cereal crops are bumping up the price hike ladder. Plenty of reasons expounded for the sudden increases:

  • Droughts and crop failures especially in Australia where the explanation lays the blame almost entirely on climate change, as though localized lack of precipitation has never been experienced over the millennia.
  • Reduced government stockpiles, particularly in Asian countries, which worked to smooth out yearly production bumps in the past. Now capitalism and the invisible hand of the market rule.
  • Too much grain fed to livestock to support the surge in meat consumption in China. Too many McMeat restaurants springing up.
  • Increasing trend of farmers, in North America and Europe, raising crops solely for processing into bio-fuels, despite current scientific evidence suggesting it may be more damaging to the environment than oil production and wastes too much energy to manufacture.
My theory: once the hedge funds and insiders milked billions for themselves from the sub-prime mortgage fiasco – leaving taxpayers to clean up the mess – they are now driving up the price oil, gas and foodstuffs on the commodities markets to further siphon off wealth. Even as the demand for oil has either stalled or inflated at below 2% per year the price continues to vault to new records.

Actually, the initial indication for the fast price jumps came when I was in one of the larger, warehouse type, local grocery outlets. I noticed three of four people struggling to the check outs pushing carts loaded with ten to twelve 40 pound bags of rice, bad luck if you had one of the sticky wheel ones I usually pick. At first, I wrote it off to coincidence, just happenstance running into a number of small restaurant owners stocking up at a cheap price. And then, I received my own lesson in the world economy when I headed over to grab a 10 kilogram bag of flour – whole wheat, not organic, but still better for you – and ran into sticker shock along with a sign from store management explaining the soaring price. Once home, I was able to check back on old bills to document the upward trend.

Flour 10 kilogram bag:
  • Sept 15/07      $5.98
  • Jan 11/08        $6.98
  • Mar 30/08     $10.58
According to my cool scientific calculator, that is a 76% increase in retail price since last September and the wholesale cost increases almost daily.

Ways to handle the crisis:
  • Purchase dedicated hand held vacuum to clean up dusting flour on counter and return to container.
  • Strategically placed jar to hold wayward rice grains picked up from floor.
  • Check out price of ‘Brent light crude’ for use as salad dressing before olive ‘oil’ converts to bio-fuel.
  • Use wild rice – yes, I know it is actually a grain – as it becomes cheaper to replace normal rice.
  • Purchase kitchen grindstone appliance to mill grains gathered surreptitiously from roadside farms after midnight.
  • Switch from the documented healthy Mediterranean diet to the just announced cheaper, bland Starvation diet.
  • Seek out lower cost alternatives such as potatoes – oops, too late. New potatoes advertised at ‘only’ $1.69 per pound.
All prices in Canadian Dollars.
Feel free to attempt novel solutions of your own.

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