Undoubtedly everyone is aware of the food shortages around the world that have sparked violence recently. This is not meant to be a political question. I find it interesting and wonder how some of us would survive without our staples (commodities).
In a nutshell: In Algeria the price of sugar, cooking oil and flour. In emerging markets such as China and India, people are spending half their living on food. Here in America, the supermarkets are taking a beating. Pepper prices in Sri Lanka are more than meat and Indians cant get onions!
What percentage of your living are you spending on food?
Are we inherently protected from these sorts of price spikes on mostly nutrient poor foods or is there some point where the cost of your staple foods would cause you to revert back to SAD to simply get by?
asked byfrankifries (826)
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on January 18, 2011
at 06:51 AM
It's definitely a concern to me, and I actually think we're more susceptible to the shortages than the regular person (since we have particular things we want). It all leads back to the sustainability of the Paleo diet for the general population. It's a bit of a niche market, and supply can't meet the demand if everyone wants paleo food. It's good for the few. Not so good for the billion.
I wouldn't hesitate to get back to a SAD in a worst case scenario (although I think we'd be able to mitigate to an extent) if the alternative was starving. In my opinion, while you may feel like crud, it usually takes years to die on the Standard American Diet, it takes a month on the Standard Starvation Diet... :) Of course, that's for me, those with major metabolic problems will have different opinions.
Not sure which articles you've seen, but what I've seen cover the gamut in the last year or so:
1) Droughts, Floods, Freezes - All weather related. All things that have happened in the past before (so it's nothing new per se. Just happening with more people to feed). Causes destruction of the crops, death of the animals, and thus a shortage.
2) Use of food supplies for non-food purposes - Corn to Ethanol.
3) Diseases at the food processing plants causing massive recalls - Salmonella, e-coli, etc. I've seen a lot of bad press on the FDA getting more powers (and various food producers whining), but I hope they put some of their new money into inspectors instead of the usual bureaucratic waste.
4) Pests eating the food (big in India, causing them to have to import food).
5) Overfishing/Pollution. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tuna go away in the next 5-10 years.
Some of the things I think we can do to mitigate: 1) Set up connections to local farmers. It won't help the drought/freeze situations, but could possibly help the outbidding situation.
2) Get more political on food supplies for non-food purposes. The politicians probably won't listen (they get tons of money from the corn lobby). But a lot of that ethanol could be created from non-food supplies. Maybe we're not eating the corn, but someone else is, which reduces the likelyhood of them hitting our suppliers...
3) Grow some food yourself. Mighty tough for me in an apartment, but I'm looking at planting some stuff on the patio.
4) Stock up on long term storable items now, while it's still relatively cheap. I still have a few 5 gallon buckets of rice and beans from the "old days". Not paleo, but beats starving. Look into a dehydrator and dehydrate some beef (there was a post on a cheap build here a week or two ago).
My 2 cents at least.
on January 18, 2011
at 05:51 AM
I just watched "food inc." last night. This question reminds me of the poor family who knew the food they were eating was slowly killing them "diabetes", but it was the only thing they could afford.
After arriving to the Paleo community through a round about adventure in economics, this question rings true. I am of the survivalist / preparedness camp, and as such.. have created spreadsheets and inventory all correlating with my Paleo nutrition profile. In bulk, I have at least 3 months worth of tinned sardines, coconut oil, coconut butter, tuna, dried fruit (no sugar added plums), tanka bars, pouched wild caught smoked salmon, shredded coconut, seaweed, assorted spices, salts, vacuumed packed home-made jerky, fish oil, brazil nuts, multi-vitamin, and my next task is canning my own goods. Also have a portable water filer and multi-feul camp stove. So if the shit hits the fan, I'm good for a few months for sure (if it's any longer than that, well.. I'll just have to rely on my well conditioned body to get me through). I'm also an avid fisherman, and am going on my first hunting trip in the near future (wild boar).
Disclaimer: Random conspiracy theory I thought of today (feel free to stop reading..), relating to the "Food, inc." movie. Monsanto and the 3-4 other big companies that are in control of 90% our food.. is it too much to think they have enough political power to facilitate an economic downturn to force people into a lower tier of wealth, thus forcing said people to buy their mass produced inexpensive processed food?(see story of poor family above) Makes perfect sense to me, but I am a bit of a loon. Control the food supply, control everything.
Hooray, self-sufficiency !!
on January 18, 2011
at 04:58 AM
I produce a lot of my families food, from vegetables to chickens, rabbits, pigs, milk, and even fish. We also have a decent orchard and lots of nut trees. I think that is the best strategy, produce as much as you can. Even someone in an apartment can grow some herbs, and most suburbanites could have rabbits, chickens, and a decent veggie patch.
on January 18, 2011
at 05:15 PM
I wouldn't blame the weather. The weather didn't make precious metals, cotton, and energy prices go up. The problem is that the money printed by central banks around the world is causing commodity prices to go up. They went up dramatically in 2010. The basic law of supply and demand applies to money (currency) as well. If governments add more dollars into circulation, that means each dollar you have is worth less because there are more dollars competing for the same supply of products. Therefore your savings and your wage have been reduced.
We are certainly not immune. If sugar, wheat, and corn go up, all other prices go up. If X is more expensive, people are more likely to buy Y, thus the price on Y can be raised. Plus, a lot of the staples that went up directly feed animals. So chicken, pork, eggs, and beef will go up when corn goes up, for example. If grain fed beef goes up, there is less pressure on keeping grass fed beef prices low (because it is in direct competition with grain fed beef), therefore grass fed beef prices will go up as well.
The reason you are not seeing a rise in meat prices is because they take longer to hit the grocery stores. You didn't see rice get more expensive in the grocery store when the commodity price for rice went up in the commodities markets. It came later, once stores sold their stock of rice and ordered more at higher prices. It takes even longer for that price rise to hit your meat. Say corn goes up, for example. Farmers have a certain supply of corn on hand and continue feeding it to their pigs. After several months, they will buy more at a higher price. However, the pigs they slaughter at this date will still be at a low price. And in fact, if they see a rise in corn prices they may actually slaughter more pigs right away because it is not worth it to feed them at the higher prices. That would mean more meat initially gets to the stores for even cheaper. It's only maybe two years later, when they slaughter pigs that were raised throughout the entire period of expensive corn, that you will see the full result of the inflation.
There is more inflation to come in America, especially when China allows its RMB to appreciate to ease the inflation problem over there. That will be inflationary for the US, since the US imports many products from China. I think that for people with money problems at that time, a Weston A Price style diet with properly treated grains, cheap organ meats, and tubers will probably give most people the same benefits as Paleo but with cheaper costs. I personally would go for sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, organ meats (often free or extremely cheap), fish bones and heads are often free, large bones for bone broths and marrow, fat for lard is often free, and other cheap filling tubers for vegetables like carrots, turnips and the like.
If I was really worried, and I was a "prepper," I'd probably build a chicken coup and a vegetable garden. Also, rabbits were the perfect depression food. They are lean protein, you can do something with their coats, they reproduce extremely quickly, they just need to eat grass, and their poop is great for your garden. If you live in the country you could go fishing or hunting. I remember when I was young my Dad caught a 40 lb salmon. I think I had to eat salmon steaks for almost 8 months, haha.
on January 17, 2011
at 11:54 PM
It is hard to believe that reverting to the SAD could be "the only way" in case of food prices moving up fast. I mean unless you are thinking on a process of extraordinary economic crack, there would always be a "quasi paleo" alternative: meat, vegetables, etc, but not organic (because of its price) and surely using cheaper meat cuts. It is unlikely that you would need to go back to cereal-beans, etc. Now in a situation of extreme poverty yes, I would have grains, pasta or beans rather than starving!
on January 17, 2011
at 10:03 PM
Ill go hunt wild animals, honestly. or move to the coast and fish, or both.
sadly, even the cost of grassfed beef will go up if corn goes up more. most of it is not cost driven but relative market driven. Sadly this means we are not protected.
If it were as simple as sugar corn and wheat going up, id laugh all the way to the bank... unfortunately its going to happen to everything.
I spend a little more to have a little extravagance in my meals. I think I would simply cut back on the little extras. Less picky about which cuts of steak, more offal, more whole animal and freezing.(besides the cow) More Eggs, more potatoes(given they dont explode)
Id also likely plant potatoes(easy to grow) and a few choice veggies.
Im really wishing I had the capital to start a farm.
on August 26, 2014
at 06:11 AM
shortages come from government interference in commerce. import tarrifs, price controls, regulations, etc.
when a warlord stops trucks carrying relief supplies because he did not get his bribe.
or govenrments creating legislation that favors local business monopolies. its all the same.
on February 02, 2011
at 05:28 AM
Just an additional link for the thread. Apparently some of the more non-Democratic govts are stockpiling grains/rice (hoping to prevent said riots).
Hrm, this just adds to the list: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/02/us-usa-weather-agriculture-idUSTRE7115M620110202
on January 17, 2011
at 11:37 PM
For a family of five, we spend 10% of my husband's salary on groceries. Sometimes, I have to cut corners to stay at that point. So, we don't eat grass-fed all the time and not everything is organic. To answer your question, if reverting back to SAD was the only way that I would be able to feed my children, the answer is yes. It would suck, but I'd do it in a heart beat if it meant that they would not starve.
on January 17, 2011
at 11:17 PM
I would probably be in trouble all the way around. My family eats SAD and they are extremely picky! If I could not get their staples, I would end up going without some of mine and adapting their food better than I do now.
I could drop the Kerrygold butter and grass-fed beef and organic fruits and veg and fancy eggs in order. I have to do that sometimes now when money is tight.
The % of income on groceries is an odd one for me. I am on an "allowance" and 75% of that goes toward food most months. The remainder I get to spend on myself, gym fees and little indulgences. Our entire household income is not at my disposal and I am not sure what percentage of that is my allowance.