If you’ve been paying any attention to the news in recent weeks, you’ve probably heard some of the stories of food shortages and limits being placed on how much food can be purchased. For example, Costco and Sam’s Club in many areas are limiting rice sales.
Even more shocking are articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal that actually encourages people to stockpile food. Are we in that bad of a position that steps like this are necessary? Or is this more of the same where the media likes to take a story with shock value and run with it. I’ll save my comments until later when people have had a chance to voice their opinions, but I’m sure a few of you already know what I think.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
I voted "legitimate concern", but the media makes it bigger than it is. I agree LELIO, it's much better to invest some time or money in growing your own foods rather than hoarding tons of food.
I was at an asian super store the other day and was completely surprised that the shelves that contain(ed) the big bags of rice were bare! I knew in the SF Bay area it was causing hysteria, but not up here in Portland. SF has a lot of 'recent' immigrants that came from poor asian countries, so I could understand that.
Here in the US/Europe we are not going to endure any kind of food shortages. Take a look around us, especially in suburban areas, people are as big as the houses. Maybe if there were food rationing we could stave off the impending diabetes epidemic we're heading into with our obese society and the continued "acceptance" of being overweight. Heck, i'm 6'1" 155# and I get heckeled by people who think i'm karen carpenter. Good lord, I'm a normal weight--society has embraced this overabundance we've been blessed with. Abundance is good, just don't eat more than youre fair share.
Relatively speaking we spend less of our income on food than any other country on earth. I think we're coming up on 9%, in Europe it's around 12-13%. Food will always be available to people with money, the poor countries, and poor in the US/Europe are the ones who will bear the brunt of the greed from the commodotiy traders. Yes, the price of rice/wheat/etc. is being controlled and exploited by commodoties traders, and we're all paying the price for their greed. Everyone needs to earn a living, when is enough enough?
Do your own part--I spent $60 on materials to build an 8 x 8 raised planting bed in my backyard to raise vegetables and the like. I'm even contemplating getting the legally allowed 3 hens to roam around my backyard. Not only are they fun to watch, they produce eggs, fertilize the earth and eat the bugs!
These hoarders are all nut cases. They should spend more of their money on their 401k instead of buying 80lb bags of rice!
I think the WSJ article was more about hoarding food because the cost of it was going up faster than people can earn from a savings account rather than hoarding because of shortages.
Not having cable, subscribing to newspapers or listening to the radio, I have only seen a little about the rice shortage and hoarding issue on an online forum and one news article on MSNBC about there still not being a food shortage in the US despite rising prices.
However, I did vote "legitimate concern". While we consume a lot of rice in our household, we know that we have alternatives if it came to a real rice shortage. My concern is the general inflation in food prices. We have been living frugally since long before the recent sudden trend in frugal living, but despite our prudent spending habits, the regular increase in food prices is a real cause for anxiety because our income hasn't increased with it.
I grocery shop once a month to save time and money, and each month the prices are significantly higher than the last. Not long ago, I could purchase 10 packs of ramen, (12 on sale) for $1.00. Then, starting a few months ago, it became 7/$1, then 6/$1, and this month 5/$1 with each succeeding month. I can't help thinking that next month it'll be 4/$1, and the month after 3/$1, and so on, and wanting to hoard as much as possible.
Because we live in a remote area, ours is the only grocery store for about 20-30 miles and most people living here don't have much of a choice about where to shop (we don't have a farmer's market either). And being remotely located, the increased gas prices probably have more of an effect on the food prices here than in other areas.
So, as someone else mentioned in a comment on another blog, the inflation might be good in theory because it forces some people to develop better habits, but for some of us, it is definitely not good in practice.
When I first read about this last week my constant comment was media fearmongering. I still wonder how two retailers can turn their shortage into something sinister. I think the same people hoarding rice now are the same people who were stockpiling water and other essentials, convinced that Y2K was going to wipe out civilization.
I caught a few lines and sound bites here and there, but I have so little confidence in media that I didn't pay any more attention than that. I have noticed no hikes in food prices. I'm a rice milk drinker, and it's still USD1.69 for the small carton of it. It's been that price for 2-3 yrs now.
In the U.S. - Definitely fear/insanity driven by the media. I still have to throw away food because I buy too much or don't consume it fast enough. We aren't going to turn from a situation of way too much to not enough any time soon.
I won't be stockpiling any food, and besides even if I do run out of food, I have plenty of weight to lose. :)
I wonder - how much will people stockpiling effect the price of rice (or any other item)? If everyone goes out and buys all the rice they can, wouldn't that cause the supply to go down and the price to go up?
I stockpile sales items, but that's habbit - not because of current media reports. There are only two of us - so the 20 pound bag of basmati rice we bought (before the stockpiling stories hit) will see us through for a while. I haven't stockpiled anything due to current concerns.
I voted "legimate concern," but my huge caveat is that this only applies to the global food situation. In the US, there is no impending crisis but the one that the media has begun by sensationalizing the situation and by encouraging hoarding. What's worse, the panic instigated by the media has completely overshadowed the very real food crisis being experienced around the world.
We stockpiled.. kinda. we have 80lbs of rice. Rice is a huge staple of our diet and we bought solely to stop being hit by huge price hikes that will come. A lot of countries have stopped exports, and a lot of export countries have been hit by drought (australia). If there is a good harvest this year things will be ok. If said countries get experience this year like last, things will really hit the fan for rice depending people/countries.
I think some of these odd stories are coming out because more and more 'normal' people are shopping at warehouse type places which are really meant more for small business like restaurants.
I find it hard to fathom joe shmoe going out and buying a couple of hundered lbs of rice.
Countries like japan a really going to feel the squeeze because they lack any kind of ability to produce the majority of their food. (I read somewhere their production of food consumed is at an all time low).
I think its a combination of fear mongering and legitimate concern. I think the US is in an odd position, food prices are going up but at the same time its all still subsidised production. There are so many knockon affects in the food chain.
Good thing corn is wind pollinationed :)
It's likely to be a blip, but given how taut supply management is, food shortages can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies. Of course, the last thing we want is government or big media to urge for calm, because then everyone will panic since trust in those institutions isn't exactly overflowing after Katrina.