In For A Penny, In For A Pound: Food Prices and War

posted by Jael Ever @ 18:48 PM
March 18, 2011

Little has been said about factors leading to the crisis in the Middle East.  One factor is the continuous rising cost of food.  Rulers, kings and governments seem oblivious to the fact that the cost basic foods make it more and more impossible for common folk to sustain normal qualities of life.  Turmoil throughout the region began when an unemployed college professor in Tunisia, where the admitted jobless rate is 14 percent, trying to eke out a living selling fruits and vegetables, set himself on fire after police confiscated his wares for “selling without a license.”  As a result, regimes across the region are falling.  People could no longer allow the wealthy to oppress them to the point of starvation.  As NPR reports, “Many of the people protesting are also angry about dramatic price hikes for basic foodstuffs, such as rice, cereals, cooking oil and sugar.”

 In January, the Associated Press wrote that young people in Algeria rioted “over rising food prices and chronic  unemployment.”  An older woman said:  “They are right, these young people. They have no job, no housing, no visa (for other countries) and now not even bread or milk.”  The World Bank alerted in February: “The last six months have seen sharp increases in the global prices of wheat, maize, sugar and edible oils, . . . higher global wheat prices have fed into significant increases in local wheat prices in many countries.”  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization insists that prices for basic foods rose to “near record highs worldwide in February.”  World Food Programme reports: “rising food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty and hunger since June” of last year.

 Shoppers in the United States are well aware of rising food costs.  Actually these price increases started a few years ago.  Without giving consumers notice or lowering prices, companies that remanufacture fresh food into canned or other goods simply made containers smaller.  Now grocery store chains run as special sales of what would have been regular prices a few months ago––and shoppers must pay.  While the  Labor Department insists that food price increases have not been more than “an annualized rate of more than 5 percent over the last three months,” shoppers know better.  Moreover, because  so much of food availability depends on cross-country truck delivery, prices are also affected by oil prices.

 The Book of Revelation teaches that scarce food comes from and to war: “And there went out another horse . . . and power was given to him . . to take peace from the earth . . . and that they should kill one another . . . and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.  And I heard a voice . . . say A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny (6: 4 – 6).  Food for pennies indicates scarcity, rationing and starvation.  In addition to group bulk purchases, neighborhood gardens, and homemade canned goods, the obvious answer for Christians is praying––for peace, provision and salvation.

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