Are you prepared to go without turkey this Thanksgiving? Yes, it might actually get that bad. So far, the worst outbreak of bird flu in U.S. history has claimed the lives of more than 20 million turkeys and chickens, and the pandemic continues to rage wildly out of control. Once one bird becomes infected, this particular strain of the virus is so virulent that it can virtually wipe out an entire flock in just a matter of days. At this point, scientists think that this virus is being spread by wild birds, but they have no idea how it is getting inside barns and other enclosed facilities so easily. Considering how important turkey, chicken and eggs are to our food supply, it is quite alarming that scientists don’t really understand what is going on. If this bird flu outbreak is not brought under control, how many birds will eventually die? Right now, it is already in the tens of millions. Could the total eventually reach into the hundreds of millions?
Minnesota is the top producer of turkeys in the United States, and Iowa is the top producer of eggs, and that is why it is so alarming that both of these states are right at the heart of this current outbreak…
Virulent H5 avian influenza strains have spread to 14 states in five months and affected about 24 million birds so far, mostly egg-laying hens and turkeys, according to USDA.
That tally is expected to grow, as U.S. authorities confirm pending cases. The outbreak, which is also affecting two Canadian provinces, shows little sign of slowing.
In Minnesota, the largest producer of U.S. turkeys, state officials said almost 5.5 million turkeys and egg-laying chickens have either died from the flu virus or are set to be killed in an effort to contain the outbreak.
In Iowa, the top U.S. egg producer, state agriculture officials said an estimated 20 million chickens and turkeys have been affected there.
So just in those two states alone, we are talking about more than 25 million chickens and turkeys that are already dead or that are scheduled to be killed in an attempt to slow down this outbreak.
Things have already gotten so bad that some in the industry are already projecting that this may cause a shortage of turkeys at Thanksgiving…
And now, with Thanksgiving just seven months away, farmers say they may be running out of time to raise enough turkeys -the traditional centerpiece of holiday feasts – to meet the demand.
Once a farm has been infected, flocks must be culled, composted in barns, then disposed of. Buildings must then be thoroughly disinfected. The whole process can take up to three months before a new flock of turkey poults can be brought in, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.
Of course any notion of “recovery” assumes that this outbreak will be shortly brought under control and that breeder farms are not being infected. But we have already had reports that some breeder farms in Minnesota have been infected.
Last year, the United States produced 240 million turkeys. Almost 20 percent of them came from Minnesota. So this outbreak in Minnesota is a really, really big deal.
And if you like to eat eggs, you should expect to start to pay more for them as well. As of now, this pandemic has already wiped out 6 percent of all “layer hens” in this country…
Egg producers have been hit hardest. In 2014, 362 million “layer” hens in the U.S. produced 100 billion eggs. With more than 20 million hens now in the process of being culled, nearly 6 percent of the nation’s population has been taken offline.
Even if this pandemic ends very quickly, and that is a huge if, the economic impact would still be huge. Food producers in the affected states are already starting to lay off workers, and prices for meat and eggs are already starting to rise.
However, what happens if this pandemic cannot be brought under control any time soon and we lose 20, 30 or 40 percent of our turkeys and chickens?
I am recommending that people consider stocking up on canned and frozen meat while they still can. Prices on those items are certainly not going to be going anywhere but up for the foreseeable future. And if you can afford it, a second freezer is often a good idea for many families.
The truly frightening thing is that this bird flu pandemic is coming at a time when the U.S. food supply is already under an unprecedented assault. Just consider some of the things that are currently happening…
-More than 40 percent of our fresh produce comes from the state of California, but thanks to the worst multi-year drought in the history of the state much of the region is turning back into a desert.
-Also due to the persistent drought, the size of the U.S. cattle herd is now as small as it was during the 1950s, and the price of beef has doubled since the last recession.
-Over the past few years, something called “porcine epidemic diarrhea” has wiped out approximately 10 percent of the entire pig population in the United States.
-Just off the west coast of the United States, a wide variety of sea creatures are dying in unprecedented numbers. For example, the sardine population along the west coast has dropped by a staggering 91 percent just since 2007.
-Down in Florida, citrus greening disease is absolutely crushing the citrus industry. Crops just keep on getting smaller year after year.
-There is a disease known as the TR4 fungus that is devastating banana production worldwide. In fact, it has been reported that this fungus could someday completely wipe out the variety of bananas that we commonly eat today.
Are you starting to understand?
Just because we have always been able to rely on massive quantities of extremely inexpensive food does not mean that it will always be that way.
At this point, scientists tell us that the strain of the bird flu that is hitting chickens and turkeys poses “little risk” to humans. But it does pose a tremendous risk to our food supply – especially if our scientists can’t figure out a way to bring this outbreak under control.
So why is all of this happening? Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…
From our fields to our forks, huge corporations have an overwhelming amount of power over our food supply every step of the way. Right now there are more than 313 million people living in the United States, and the job of feeding all of those people is almost entirely in the hands of just a few dozen monolithic companies. If you do not like how our food is produced or you don’t believe that it is healthy enough, it isn’t very hard to figure out who is to blame. These mammoth corporations are not in business to look out for the best interests of the American people. Rather, the purpose of these corporations is to maximize wealth for their shareholders. So the American people end up eating billions of pounds of extremely unhealthy food that is loaded with chemicals and additives each year, and we just keep getting sicker and sicker as a society. But these big corporations are raking in big profits, so they don’t really care.
If we did actually have a capitalist system in this country, we would have a high level of competition in the food industry. But instead, the U.S. food industry has become increasingly concentrated with each passing year. Just consider the following numbers about the U.S. agricultural sector…
The U.S. agricultural sector suffers from abnormally high levels of concentration. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios around 40%, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40% of the market. If the concentration ratio is above 40%, experts believe competition can be threatened and market abuses are more likely to occur: the higher the number, the bigger the threat.
The concentration ratios in the agricultural sector are shocking.
-Four companies own 83.5% of the beef market.
-The top four firms own 66% of the hog industry.
-The top four firms control 58.5% of the broiler chicken industry.
-In the seed industry, four companies control 50% of the proprietary seed market and 43% of the commercial seed market worldwide.
-When it comes to genetically engineered (GE) crops, just one company, Monsanto, boasts control of over 85% of U.S. corn acreage and 91% of U.S. soybean acreage.
When so much power is concentrated in so few hands, it creates some tremendous dangers.
And many of these giant corporations (such as Monsanto) are extremely ruthless. Small farmers all over America are being wiped out and forced out of the business by the predatory business practices of these huge companies…
Because farmers rely on both buyers and sellers for their business, concentrated markets squeeze them at both ends. Sellers with high market power can inflate the prices of machinery, seeds, fertilizers and other goods that farmers need for their farms, while powerful buyers, such as processors, suppress the prices farmers are paid. The razor-thin profit margins on which farmers are forced to operate often push them to “get big or get out”—expanding into mega-operations or exiting the business altogether.
Of course the control that big corporations have over our food supply does not end at the farms.
The distribution of our food is also very highly concentrated. The graphic shared below was created by Oxfam International, and it shows how just 10 gigantic corporations control almost everything that we buy at the grocery store…
And these food distributors are often not very good citizens either.
For example, it was recently reported that Nestle is running a massive bottled water operation on a drought-stricken Indian reservation in California…
Among the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks. A sign at the entrance displays the logo of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, with water flowing from a snowy mountain. Semi-trucks rumble in and out through the gates, carrying load after load of bottled water.
The plant, located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, has been drawing water from wells alongside a spring in Millard Canyon for more than a decade. But as California’s drought deepens, some people in the area question how much water the plant is bottling and whether it’s right to sell water for profit in a desert region where springs are rare and underground aquifers have been declining.
Nestle doesn’t stop to ask whether it is right or wrong to bottle water in the middle of the worst drought in the recorded history of the state of California.
They have the legal right to do it and they are making large profits doing it, and so they are just going to keep on doing it.
Perhaps you are thinking that you can avoid all of these corporations by eating organic and by shopping at natural food stores.
Well, it isn’t necessarily that easy.
According to author Wenonah Hauter, the “health food industry” is also extremely concentrated…
Over the past 20 years, Whole Foods Market has acquired its competition, including Wellspring Grocery, Bread of Life, Bread & Circus, Food for Thought, Fresh Fields, Wild Oats Markets and others. Today the chain dominates the market because it has no national competitor. Over the past five years its gross sales have increased by half (47 percent) to $11.7 billion, and its net profit quadrupled to $465.6 million. One of the ways it has achieved this profitability is by selling conventional foods under the false illusion that they are better than products sold at a regular grocery store. Consumers falsely conclude that these products have been screened and are better, and they are willing to pay a higher price.
The distribution of organic foods is also extremely concentrated. A little-known company, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) now controls the distribution of organic and natural products. Publically traded, the company has a contract with Whole Foods and it is the major source of these products for the remaining independent natural food stores. This relationship has resulted in increasingly high prices for these foods. Small manufacturers are dependent on contracts with UNFI to get their products to market and conversely, small retailers often have to pay a premium price for products because of their dependence on this major distributor. Over the past five years, UNFI’s net sales increased by more than half (55.6 percent) $5.2. billion. Its net profit margin increased by 88 percent to $91 million.
Everywhere you look, the corporations are in control.
And this is especially true when you look at big food retailers such as Wal-Mart.
Right now, grocery sales account for about half of all business at Wal-Mart, and approximately one out of every three dollars spent on groceries in the United States is spent at Wal-Mart.
That is absolutely astounding, and it obviously gives Wal-Mart an immense amount of power.
In fact, if you can believe it, Wal-Mart actually purchases a billion pounds of beef every single year.
So the next time someone asks you where the beef is, you can tell them that it is at Wal-Mart.
On the restaurant side, the ten largest fast food corporations account for 47 percent of all fast food sales, and the love affair that Americans have with fast food does not appear to be in danger of ending any time soon.
Personally, if you do not like how these corporate giants are behaving, you can always complain.
But you are just one person among 313 million, and most of these big corporations are not going to consider the ramblings of one person to be of any significance whatsoever.
Collectively, however, we have great power. And the way that we are going to get these big corporations to change is by voting with our wallets.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans seem quite satisfied with the status quo. So the population as a whole is likely going to continue to get sicker, fatter and less healthy with each passing year, and the big food corporations are going to keep becoming even more powerful.
Do you think that the price of food is high now? Just wait. If current trends continue, many of the most common food items that Americans buy will cost more than twice as much by the end of this decade. Global demand for food continues to rise steadily as crippling droughts ravage key agricultural regions all over the planet. You see, it isn’t just the multi-year California drought that is affecting food prices. Down in Brazil (one of the leading exporters of food in the world), the drought has gotten so bad that 142 cities were rationing water at one point earlier this year. And outbreaks of disease are also having a significant impact on our food supply. A devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the U.S. before has already killed up to 6 million pigs. Even if nothing else bad happens (and that is a very questionable assumption to make), our food prices are going to be moving aggressively upward for the foreseeable future. But what if something does happen? In recent years, global food reserves have dipped to extremely low levels, and a single major global event (war, pandemic, terror attack, planetary natural disaster, etc.) could create an unprecedented global food crisis very rapidly.
A professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University named Timothy Richards has calculated what the drought in California is going to do to produce prices at our supermarkets in the near future. His projections are quite sobering…
- Avocados likely to go up 17 to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
- Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
- Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
- Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
- Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44 per head.
- Packaged salad likely to go up 17 to 34 cents to a possible $3.03 per bag.
- Peppers likely to go up 18 to 35 cents to a possible $2.48 per pound.
- Tomatoes likely to rise 22 to 45 cents to a possible $2.84 per pound.
So what happens if the drought does not end any time soon?
Scientist Lynn Ingram, who has studied the climate history of the state of California extensively, told CBS News that we could potentially be facing “a century-long megadrought” in California. If that does indeed turn out to be the case, we could be facing huge price increases for produce year after year.
And it isn’t just crops that are grown in the United States that we need to be concerned about. As NBC News recently reported, the price of cocoa is absolutely soaring and that is going to mean much higher prices for chocolate…
As cocoa prices surge to near-record highs on demand for emerging markets, chocoholics brace for a hike in price – and maybe even a different taste, as chocolate makers hunt out cheaper ingredients.
Cocoa futures are up 10 percent so far this year, hitting almost £1,900 on ($3,195) a ton in March. Last year prices rose 20 percent.
In fact, experts are now warning that chocolate may soon become a “high-end luxury item” because it is becoming so expensive.
Meat prices are also starting to spiral out of control.
A virus known as porcine epidemic diarrhea has pushed pork prices up to new all-time record highs. It has already spread to 27 states, and as I mentioned above, it has already killed up to 6 million pigs. It is being projected that U.S. pork production will decline by about 7 percent this year as a result, and Americans could end up paying up to 20 percent more for pork by the end of the year.
The price of beef has also soared to a brand new all-time record high. Due to the drought that never seems to let up in the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has been declining for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.
If the overall price of food in this country increases by just an average of a little more than 12 percent a year, it will double by the end of this decade.
What would you do if you suddenly walked into the grocery store and everything was twice as much?
That is a frightening thing to think about.
Meanwhile, all of our other bills just keep going up as well. For example, we just learned that the price of electricity hit a brand new all-time record high for the month of March.
If our incomes were keeping up with all of these price increases, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I wrote about earlier this week, the quality of our jobs continues to go down and more Americans fall out of the middle class every single day.
According to CNBC, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans with college degrees that are working for minimum wage right now…
While a college degree might help get a job, it doesn’t necessarily mean a good salary. According to a report released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 260,000 workers with bachelor’s degrees and 200,000 workers with associate’s degrees are making the minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour. Some cities and states have recently raised their minimum wage, but the BLS report defines only those making $7.25 an hour or less as “minimum wage workers.”
And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has dropped for five years in a row.
This is why so many families are financially stressed these days. The cost of living is going up at a steady pace, but for the most part our paychecks are not keeping up. Average Americans are having to stretch their money farther than ever, and many families have reached the breaking point.
So what is going on in your neck of the woods? Are you starting to see prices rise at the grocery stores where you live? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…
If the extreme drought in the western half of the country keeps going, the food supply problems that we are experiencing right now are only going to be the tip of the iceberg. As you will see below, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has dropped to a 61 year low, and organic food shortages are being reported all over the nation. Surprisingly cold weather and increasing demand for organic food have both been a factor, but the biggest threat to the U.S. food supply is the extraordinary drought which has had a relentless grip on the western half of the country. If you check out the U.S. Drought Monitor, you can see that drought conditions currently stretch from California all the way to the heart of Texas. In fact, the worst drought in the history of the state of California is happening right now. And considering the fact that the rest of the nation is extremely dependent on produce grown in California and cattle raised in the western half of the U.S., this should be of great concern to all of us.
A local Fox News report that was featured on the Drudge Report entitled “Organic food shortage hits US” has gotten quite a bit of attention. The following is an excerpt from that article…
Since Christmas, cucumbers supplies from Florida have almost ground to a halt and the Mexican supply is coming but it’s just not ready yet.
And as the basic theory of economics goes, less supply drives up prices.
Take organic berries for example:
There was a strawberry shortage a couple weeks back and prices spiked.
Experts say the primary reasons for the shortages are weather and demand.
And without a doubt, demand for organic food has grown sharply in recent years. More Americans than ever have become aware of how the modern American diet is slowly killing all of us, and they are seeking out alternatives.
Due to the tightness in supply and the increasing demand, prices for organic produce just continue to go up. Just consider the following example…
A quick check on the organic tree fruit market shows that the average price per carton for organic apples was $38 per carton in mid-January this year, up from an average of just $31 per carton last year at the same time. At least for apple marketers, the organic market is heating up.
Personally, I went to a local supermarket the other day and I started to reach for a package of organic strawberries but I stopped when I saw that they were priced at $6.99. I couldn’t justify paying 7 bucks for one package. I still remember getting them on sale for $2.99 last year.
Unfortunately, this may only be just the beginning of the price increases. California Governor Jerry Brown has just declared a water emergency, and reservoirs throughout the state have dropped to dangerously low levels.
Unless a miracle happens, there is simply not going to be enough water to go around for the entire agriculture industry. The following is an excerpt from an email from an industry insider that researcher Ray Gano recently shared on his website…
Harris farms has released a statement saying they will leave about 40,000 acres fallow this year because the FEDS have decided to only deliver 10% of the water allocation for 2014. Lettuce is predicted to reach around $5.00 a head (if you can find it). Understand the farmers in the Salinas valley are considering the same action. So much for salad this summer unless you grow it yourself.
The reason why the agriculture industry in California is so important is because it literally feeds the rest of the nation. I shared the following statistics yesterday, but they are so critical that they bear repeating. As you can see, without the fruits and vegetables that California grows, we would be in for a world of hurt…
The state produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the US, 44 percent of asparagus, a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, half of bell peppers, 89 percent of cauliflower, 94 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of celery. Leafy greens? California’s got the market cornered: 90 percent of the leaf lettuce we consume, along with and 83 percent of Romaine lettuce and 83 percent of fresh spinach, come from the big state on the left side of the map. Cali also cranks a third of total fresh tomatoes consumed in the U.S.—and 95 percent of ones destined for cans and other processing purposes.
As for fruit, I get that 86 percent of lemons and a quarter of oranges come from there; its sunny climate makes it perfect for citrus, and lemons store relatively well. Ninety percent of avocados? Fine. But 84 percent of peaches, 88 percent of fresh strawberries, and 97 percent of fresh plums?
Come on. Surely the other 49 states can do better.
Are you starting to understand how much trouble we could be in if this drought does not end?
About now I can hear some people out there saying that they will just eat meat because they don’t like vegetables anyway.
Well, unfortunately we are rapidly approaching a beef shortage as well.
On January 1st, the U.S. cattle herd hit a 61-year low of 89.3 million head of cattle.
The biggest reason for this is the 5 year drought that has absolutely crippled the cattle industry out west…
Back in the late fall 2013 there was a freak snowstorm that killed close to 300,000+ cattle. This is a major hit to the cattle market.
I know in Texas where they still have a 5 year drought they are dealing with, they are having to ship grass bails in from Colorado, Utah and other parts of the country just to feed the cattle. Ranchers are sending their female cattle to the slaughter houses becasue they can not afford to feed them anymore. It is the females that help re-stock the herd. SO if you are slaughtering your females, your herd does not grow. It is expected that the US will not see cattle herd growth returning until 2017, maybe even later.
This is a problem which is not going away any time soon.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. cattle herd has gotten smaller for six years in a row, and the amount of beef produced is expected to drop to a 20 year low in 2014…
The U.S. cattle herd contracted for six straight years to the smallest since 1952, government data show. A record drought in 2011 destroyed pastures in Texas, the top producing state, followed the next year by a surge in feed-grain prices during the worst Midwest dry spell since the 1930s. Fewer cattle will mean production in the $85 billion beef industry drops to a 20- year low in 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
It would be hard to overstate how devastating this ongoing drought has been for many ranchers out west. For example, one 64-year-old rancher who lives in Texas says that his herd is 90 percent smaller than it was back in 2005 because of the drought…
Texas rancher Looney, who is 64 and has been in the cattle business his whole life, said his herd is still about 90 percent below its size from 2005 because of the prolonged dry weather. It will take years for the pastures to come back, even if there is normal rainfall, he said. About 44 percent of Texas was in still in drought in the week ended Jan. 7, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
And it isn’t just the U.S. that is dealing with this kind of drought. The largest freshwater lake in China that was once about twice the size of London, England has almost entirely dried up because of the ongoing drought over there.
Meanwhile, global demand for food just continues to rise.
If this drought ends and the western half of the nation starts getting lots of rain, this could just be a temporary crisis.
However, the truth is that scientific research has shown that the 20th century was the wettest century in the western half of the country in 1000 years, and that we should expect things to return to “normal” at some point.
So is that happening now?
Over the past couple of years, I have warned that Dust Bowl conditions are starting to return to the western half of the United States. Just see this article, this article and this article.
Now the state of California is experiencing the worst drought that it has ever gone through and “apocalyptic” dust storms are being reported in Colorado and Nevada.
Just because things seem like they have always been a certain way does not mean that they will always stay that way.
Things out west are rapidly changing, and in the end it is going to affect the lives of every man, woman and child in the United States.
Could that headline actually be true? Do Americans waste about 40 percent of all the food that we produce? That sounds like an absolutely crazy number, but it is actually quite accurate according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council. What the NRDC discovered is that approximately 40 percent of our total food supply is either thrown into dumpsters by grocery stores, is discarded by restaurants, never gets harvested on our farms, or is thrown into the garbage by consumers in their homes. Even though 47 million Americans are on food stamps and millions of children go to bed hungry in this country every single night, we continue to waste approximately 263 million pounds of food every single day of the year. One day people will look back and regard us as probably the most wasteful society in the history of the planet.
So where does all of that food go?
Well, according to a recent Seattle Times article, “food waste” takes up more space in our landfills than anything else does…
Last year, the NRDC found that Americans throw out as much as 40 percent of the country’s food supply each year, adding up to $165 billion in losses.
Food waste makes up the largest portion of solid trash in landfills, according to researchers.
Some $900 million of expired food is dumped from the supply chain annually, much of it a result of confusion. Misinterpreted date labels cause the average American household of four to lose as much as $455 a year on squandered food, according to researchers.
The expired food that gets wasted is one of my personal pet peeves.
I don’t do this a lot, but today I am going to share a personal story with you.
Earlier today I was out running errands and I decided that I wanted to pick up some mini-cupcakes from Safeway that I just love. I do try to eat a healthy diet, but I do also like a treat from time to time. So I got over to Safeway, and I noticed that the only mini-cupcakes that they had out were ones with chocolate frosting, but I wanted ones with vanilla frosting.
So I went up to the bakery counter and there was nobody there, but behind the counter I saw a stack of several containers of vanilla cupcakes. I waited until the bakery lady got back and I asked her if I could have them.
I was astounded when she very firmly told me that I could not buy them.
She said that it was against regulations.
I implored her to sell them to me. I explained that I had come over to Safeway just to buy them and I didn’t care if they were a little old.
Again she very firmly told me that I could not buy them.
I could not understand this. I knew that the cupcakes were just going to be thrown out, so I asked to speak to her manager.
After a few moments her manager came over and I was once again told very firmly that under no circumstances would I be able to buy the cupcakes.
So needless to say, I left the store with a sad look on my face and without any cupcakes.
Now of course I probably didn’t need the cupcakes anyway. They are not healthy for me. But big chains such as Safeway throw away massive amounts of very good food as well. The level of the waste that goes on is absolutely astounding.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans that are dealing with hunger and malnutrition grows with each passing day. I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article authored by Jason Ford entitled “I Work On The Breadline“…
I work as a cashier at a nationally known discount store. I sell clothing, cleaning products, house wares and food. The people I sell to are people of all colors, races, ages and sex, but most of them have one thing in common; EBT cards. I would say about half of every transaction I do is paid for with an EBT card. Sometimes people will use three different methods of payment. They will use whatever is left on their EBT card, then use whatever is left on their debit card, and then scrape their purse to find the remaining balance, and sometimes they still don’t have enough.
Another common trait of the people I serve besides the poverty is the poor health. The food I sell is not healthy, by any stretch. I sell potato chips, candy bars, bread, canned food, ice cream, soda, packaged meat, cigarettes and alcohol. I noticed quickly that a common ingredient of most of the foods is sugar and grains. Sugar and grains are easy to grow and produce cheaply and are used as fillers in processed food to cut cost and mask the taste of other questionable ingredients. Grains work in conjunction with sugars to inflame the body and compromise the immune system. Grains and sugars also have no nutritional value besides calories, so on top of inflaming the body; they do not provide the sustenance the body needs to survive. As the functions of the body require these nutrients the diet lacks, the body sucks these minerals from the bones, teeth and brain. Bone loss, and tooth decay and decreased brain function are the unfortunate symptoms of malnutrition. The poorest of the customers I serve are also the sickest. I have witnessed toothless mouths in the young and old. Mental retardation is also a common trait among many of them. I have even witnessed one unfortunate woman whose skin was a pale green color. These people are dying a slow starvation and they don’t even know it.
Doesn’t that just break your heart?
People are living like that, and yet America discards 263 million pounds of food every single day.
Something is fundamentally wrong with the way our system works.
So what is society going to do as the number of hungry people continues to grow in this country and around the world?
Well, according to ABC News, some scientists plan to feed them with flour made out of bugs…
A team of MBA students were the recipients of the 2013 Hult Prize earlier this week, providing them with $1 million in seed money to produce an insect-based, protein-rich flour for feeding malnourished populations in other countries. The product is called Power Flour.
“It’s a huge deal because we had a very ambitious but highly executable five-year plan in place,” said team captain Mohammed Ashour, whose team hails from McGill University in Montreal. “So winning this prize is a great step in that direction.”
Ashour, along with teammates Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson and Gabe Mott, will be immediately working with an advisory board to recruit farmers and workers in Mexico, where a population of roughly 4 million live in slum conditions with widespread malnutrition.
“We will be starting with grasshoppers,” Ashour said.
Are you ready for a “protein-rich flour” made out of grasshoppers?
I know that I am not.
And in Japan, scientists have actually been working on a way to create meat out of poop. You can read more about that right here.
Perhaps if we just quit wasting so much food we would be able to feed everybody without resorting to such craziness.
These days, an increasing number of Americans are fighting back against the colossal waste that they see all around them. Some have even chosen to take advantage of the waste by regularly going “dumpster diving”. The following is how I described “dumpster diving” in one of my previous articles…
Have you ever thought about getting your food out of a trash can? Don’t laugh. Dumpster diving has become a hot new trend in America. In fact, dumpster divers even have a trendy new name. They call themselves “freegans”, and as the economy crumbles their numbers are multiplying. Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries. Others do it because they want to live more simply. Freegans that are concerned about the environment view dumpster diving as a great way to “recycle” and other politically-minded freegans consider dumpster diving to be a form of political protest. But whatever you want to call it, the reality is that thousands upon thousands of Americans will break out their boots, rubber gloves and flashlights and will be jumping into dumpsters looking for food once again tonight.
Who knows – perhaps some enterprising young dumpster diver will end up fishing the vanilla cupcakes that I wanted out of Safeway’s dumpsters this evening.
It is amazing what some of these dumpster divers are able to recover from “the trash”. In North Carolina, one man even takes his son dumpster diving with him…
A programmer by day, Todd takes to the streets of North Carolina by night, digging through Dumpsters at drug stores and grocery stores all around his rural neighborhood.
“You would be simply amazed at what businesses throw out,” he said. “I’ve only had to buy two loaves of bread all year. … Last week I had a trunk full of cereal, cookies, chips and ramen noodles.”
Todd slinks in and out of smelly places with low-light flashlights to evade rent-a-cops who will shoo him away. Most nights, his 14-year-old son comes along.
Unfortunately, dumpster diving is not as easy as it used to be.
As dumpster diving has soared in popularity, some grocery stores have responded by putting locks on their dumpsters.
And in some areas of the country, police have even started regularly arresting dumpster divers.
But in the end, dumpster diving was not going to be a permanent solution anyway.
A permanent solution would be to quit wasting so much food.
I applaud the grocery store chains that choose to donate their expired food to homeless shelters and food banks.
We need to see a lot more of that going on.
And in our own homes we need to find ways to give more food away and waste less of it.
All of this needless wasting of food does not have to happen. Let’s work together to find some solutions.