Thursday, May 01, 2008

Food Shortage: What would Mormons do?

If you have not read about it in the news you have no doubt felt it at the pump and in grocery store lines. Food and gas prices are soaring.

For me, this sharp increase over the last year seems a bit more shocking. When I left for overseas in early summer 2006 groceries seemed to be somewhat stable. Since returning last November after being gone nearly a year and a half, the difference is more obvious. Food in America basically requires special financing plans, a second mortgage or a third world GDP.

But a larger concern seems to be the shortage of it. A sudden surge of Westerners rushing to make bio-diesel seems to be getting the brunt of the blame. Ironically this hasn’t reduced our fuel efficiency or costs nearly as much as we hoped it would. Further, such an effort seems to have more been like shooting ourselves in the foot, since now in addition to ginormous gas prices we have ginormous food prices. The other day I was surprised to find that lemons on Safeway’s produce aisle were on sale for 89 cents each. Whoa, a lemon? Well, I guess as the old adage says, when life gives you lemons, make…you get it. But actually, life isn’t giving me lemons; it’s selling them to me at way too high a price.

So what to do about it? There is no doubt the alternative energy solutions are needed, but let’s not be too hasty with that idea. It’s now becoming increasingly clear that the bio-fuel solution isn’t a solution at all. In fact, I find it ironic that the many bandwagon environmentalists have done more to harm than good in the name of conservation and being everything green. I blame Al Gore, if for no other reason than he’s an awkward lark with sketchy facts at best. We need to avert bio-fuels and move on to more efficient solutions like hydrogen (which I think is the best solution for transportation fuel, if we can master it).

Americans should also reduce their dependence on foreign crops and begin thinking about the home garden again. Imagine if every American family began to grow their own vegetables. I am no economist, but I think this would aid in the shortage solution.

But the overall point is not just blind conservancy. That doesn’t work. Just because it seems environmentally sound, or is an energy alternative, does not mean it’s a great economic practice. As governments continue to hash out solutions, I think I’ll make like a Mormon and build up my food storage.

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