Friday, June 13, 2014

The Power In Producing Food

"The future of the nations will depend on the manner of how they feed themselves, wrote the French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. Almost 200 years later, how nations feed themselves has gotten a lot more complicated. That’s particularly true in the US, where food insecurity coexists with an obesity crisis, where fast food is everywhere and farmer’s markets are spreading, where foodies have never had more power and McDonald’s has never had more locations, and where the possibility of a barbecue-based civil war is always near. So here are 40 maps, charts, and graphs that show where our food comes from and how we eat it, with some drinking thrown in for good measure."

Because of our land mass quality and location, we in the U.S. have been the leaders of food production.  "New data from the Department of Agriculture shows that, as world demand for food continues to be relatively high, price increases will moderate or even fall. This is in contrast to several years of sharp increases in the cost of agricultural commodities. Much of the reason for the mitigation is a rise in American crop production. America has become, once again, the bread basket of the world. That should help the world economy and could help feed people who are desperate."

One reason U.S. farmers will help hold food prices down is that in 2012 the level of exports of agricultural commodities will be at their second highest level ever, the Agriculture Department reported. There have been problems with supply in a number of the world’s largest nations because of drought and inclement weather. The weather in the U.S. has been relatively good for crop productions over the past year.

While the USDA expects demand for food crops to be strong again this year, “planted acres” in the U.S. will increase 4.2% from last year. Wheat and corn production will increase very substantially. This, in turn, should cause a drop in prices, in a range of 14% to 19% in the price of those two commodities. And, this likely will cause a reversal in food price inflation that began in early 2010.
While the drop in prices and increases in supply will help curb inflation in large countries, particularly China, the most important effect will be in the third world. A recent survey in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Bangladesh conducted by charity Save the Children showed more than 30% of parents said their children did not have enough to eat. The primary cause, they said, was food prices."
It is amazing to me what transpired before my birth.  I know that the hybridization of corn had something to do with that but the resources we have to produce food in this nation is incredible.
Ed Winkle

4 comments:

  1. Wow, what happened in 1997 to fats and oils in map #20?
    There has been a huge 50% consumption surge, same as for grain since the 70s. By which, I mean of course pasta, white bread and pizza, not healthy oats and whole grain rice...

    Well Kansas is hardly the bread basket of the world this year, Canada, South America and a couple other countries will have to fill the gap for 2014. I don't really think commodity prices are going down, only punctually like this year's low corn price, but in the long term, the market is driven by investors more than weather or yield, and they have no interest in prices going down. Cheap corn feed this year probably means more profits for livestock farmers or meat processors, not really cheaper food for the consumer. The market could go in any direction really, hard to predict such trends.


    Would you believe I haven't read Brillat-Savarin's only book, Physiology of Taste? The post-French Revolution influential politician, economist and epicurean indeed who coined "tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are." He also coined "a dessert without cheese is like a belle missing one eye," not the best of his 20 gastronomical "precepts" but one which apparently caused both a cheese, the triple-cream Brie called "Brillat-Savarin", and a dessert, the light yeast cake "savarin" shaped like a ring and infused with rum syrup until saturated, to be named in his honor.

    I just downloaded his book from gutenberg.org, I'll try to give it a read. The guy also emigrated to the United States for a few years; With food and Frenchitude, I already share 3 interests with him!

    Brillat-Savarin cheese (with black truffle): http://www.foodreporter.fr/dish/index/id/638254
    Savarin pastry: http://www.lacuisinedebernard.com/2013/06/le-savarin-au-rhum.html
    (pictures of the final pastry at the bottom)

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  2. That is a good question, I have no idea what cause that anomaly.

    I really like his quote, that puts it all in perspective. I know food is power but it is nothing like it was when I was a child and the Frisch's Big Boy was the hottest thing on the market here! McDonald's sure capitalized on that, didn't they!

    Ed

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    Replies
    1. I have never been at Frisch's, and it's been years since I have been at a burger joint, they're my devil incarnate! We never had burgers in my youth, just ground steak, very lean and tasty, and it was pan-fried, served and eaten like a steak with vegetables like green beans, peas or mashed potatoes, never in a bun with French fries. Even in the countryside, there was never any outdoor cooking like grilling or BBQing, or even smoking (which was used only to preserve food,) all the food was cooked in the kitchen.

      By the way, I quickly browsed that Brillat-Savarin book, what a rich pretentious prick this was. The anecdotes in the book really reflect what the aristocratic society was at that time, and how they cared only for their pleasures with not a thought for the slave valets and peasants that served them, no wonder that was the time of the French Revolution.

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