The headlines about rising food prices around the globe are sobering. The World Bank reports that wheat prices are up 200% since 2000 and overall food prices are up 75%. The increases are causing difficulty as people spend an ever-larger portion of their income on food. As usual, the poorest are hit the hardest. Meager incomes never went far, and when the cost of bread doubles, they can buy even less. In some places, people are protesting in the streets, as demonstrated by recent riots in Indonesia and Burkina Faso.
There are several converging reasons behind the increase of world food prices, including greater global demand, adverse weather affecting crop production, and the diversion of grain from food to biofuel. I recently ran across a nice explanation of these factors and their consequences. Check out the BBC Food Series. There are four video clips covering food supply stories in different parts of the world, and the top right of the page has links to several other related articles. (The link to the Chicago video clip is misdirected but you can get to it here.) If you’re wanting an quick education or need to explain the situation to others, this is a great place to start!