The weather patterns have changed. We woke up to frost on July 9th and things don’t seem to be getting any better. It has been a cold spring and summer really hasn’t kicked off other than for a few hot days here and there. Overall crops are falling behind across the province and in other parts of the country we are still seeing flooding and severe weather that could have some very negative impacts on food supplies this year, and the scary thing is that Canada is not alone.
From drought to flooding or cooler weather patterns food supply around the globe is falling behind or is threatened by Mother Nature. For the most part we have no control over what the weather throws at us. We can try and cover our more delicate crops or use more water when there is no rain but at the end of the day it is a game of chance and the odds are not in our favour when things turn out this way.
We in the west are used to our luxuries of supermarkets with full shelves of food from around the globe. It is becoming harder for some of our society to enjoy such luxuries. Inflation prices on foods have skyrocketed. The increases in food prices have become very clear to many as usual staples are jumping in price. This has lead countries around the world to start looking for new affordable sources of food. South Korea for instance is trying to secure overseas farmland. With corn futures increasing over 60% in 2010 Korea, other North Asian countries are looking to secure an additional 380,000 hectares for the production of wheat, soybeans and corn.
Countries with money can hope to just buy their way out of the problem of increased cost of agricultural products, but countries in developing nations can’t and, really without some sort of regulation on commodities speculation, it is hard to say that there can be any real effect on prices. Mother Nature does have a part to play in increased costs, there is no doubt about that, and a lot of the speculation is based on weather patterns. If there is a bad frost in Florida or California then we know the price of citrus will go up because there is a lack of supply. This doesn’t mean the farmer growing the orange or lemon will see huge returns because once speculators get involved the middle man starts to make all the money. The agriculture ministers from the G20 just wrapped up a summit on this very thing where some countries wanted controls put in place to regulate the commodities market, but an agreement wasn’t made so another year will go by and we will see more inflation based on speculation.
When you boil it all down what it means for you and me is that prices in the supermarket will continue to rise. There is a bright side to it all. We have the power in our part of the world to take this as an opportunity to plan and work towards a little more self-sufficiency by planting a garden and buying from local farmers at local farmers’ markets, fruit stands and farm gate sales. That’s how our great grandparents and grandparents did it.