How Food Prices Feed Egyptian Revolt
“The last time Egyptians took to the streets was spring 2008, to protest the rise in food prices, especially bread or aish, also the Arabic word for life. For Egyptians, the two are synonymous. A dozen died, becoming “bread martyrs.”
Land and Bread. When one looks at so many revolutions, the beginning of the end for so many governments is when they can no longer provide either. Egypt is just the beginning of a long string of upheavals. Food prices are sharply rising due to many factors: speculation is only one-but the rising cost of oil is another. Our economy depends on a declining share of the resource, and with the laws of supply and demand, the less of a valuable substance there is, the higher the price.
I have often felt that the canary is cheeping for us too. Suburbanization has plowed millions of acres of farmland in the east under, taking the topsoil away and substituting it with a barren (relatively speaking) layer designed to support trees, lawns and ornamental plants, not food. We are now importing fruit we used to get locally. Bananas fro Columbia-we used to get at least some from Hawaii. Apples from Romania? Vegetables from who knows where? What happens when it gets too expensive to import these things? What happens when Romanians and Columbians have to spend their precious resources on local needs and no longer have quite the wherewithal to send us their apples and bananas and whatnot?
How does that relate to urban farming? Millions of people living in cities are totally dependent (this author included) on far-away produce and meet to feed us. But that system is highly dependent upon petroleum for both fertilizer and transportation. Which makes us an unwitting partner in the regimes in the Middle East that repress their people and who get away with it because they don’t really think they need them to make money. (I’m thinking of you, Saudi Arabia-even though Egypt has some oil) I know that most of America’s oil these days comes from Canada, but our partners in produce oftentimes use Mideast Oil as well)
Gone are the independent farmers whose produce could feed millions for relative pennies. Gone are the family farms that people could at least live on and feed themselves. To replace them are “food deserts” where grocery stores dare not roam for fear of crime, and where even if everything were completely peaceful, the profit margins are deemed too few to put what is needed in.
One benefit of urban farming is that the transportation cost and often the fertilizer cost are lessened. When food is grown in the neighborhood or at least in the same county, fewer fuel resources are needed to transport the food to the eaters. In some cases we also save on wrapping-a lot of wrapping is needed not only to protect from bacteria, but also from damage due to shipping.
Urban farming helps lessen the dependence on the goodwill of the powers that be . . . → Read More: Land, Food, Freedom