Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are Increasing Food Prices Impacting How You Shop?

There was an interesting piece by staff writer Mike Lee on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune today about food price inflation due to the effect of global warming on farming. The findings are based on some 1,000 studies that have assessed the impact of climate change of the country's natural resources.

They pointed to higher temperatures increasing the risk of crop failures, greater livestock mortality and less productivity during hotter summers, more weeds and more weeds that are resistant to herbicides, reduced mountain snowpack, more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to more forest fires... The list isn't pretty and you can find a news release about the report at the USDA website and the website of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

Already consumers are being hit hard at the markets by increased prices thanks to new competition for corn by ethanol producers, the ever-increasing cost of oil, natural disasters and global competition for staples.

So, my question is how are these increased prices and the threat of even higher food price inflation impacting how you shop? If you were buying organics and shopping at the farmers markets are you continuing to do so or cutting back in some way? Are you buying less? Are you being more selective about what organics you're buying and opting back to conventionally grown foods in other areas? Or, to the contrary, are you choosing to buy more organically grown produce and meats because the farming methods are more earth sensitive?

Finally, if we had been seeing a gradual increase in the amount of healthier, organic products being purchased in the U.S., which we have (to the tune of $20 billion a year, according to the Organic Consumers Association), do increased prices for these foods mean that we'll see a reversal of this trend with the megafood suppliers feeling justified in growing and producing foods on the cheap with impunity?

Send me your thoughts by clicking on "comment" below.

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