What Causes Food Insecurity: Part III

In case you missed it, I posted Part I and Part II earlier, covering some of the causes of low food stocks.  This is yet another part of the low food stocks causes of food insecurity: biofuels

A common criticism of US corn subsidies (and sometimes dairy subsidies in Europe) is that overproduction of food in developed countries caused a surplus of cheap food that was dumped in developing nations undercutting the agricultural production of local producers.  However, the emphasis on biofuels and alternative energy forms shifted the purpose of production of certain commodities from food to fuel.

Tax credits and other subsidies have “succeeded in diverting about one third of the US corn crop to ethanol production and perhaps a similar amount of EU rapeseed to biodiesel.”[1] These incentives increase the demand for biofuels and as a result increase the demand for agricultural products needed to produce biofuels such as corn in the United States and sugar cane and soybeans in other ethanol producing nations.  According to the argument that food is used for fuel, land that would be used for food production for human consumption has been converted to food production for energy.

In the US, federal law encourages biofuels production by mandating that a ten percent blend of ethanol in every gallon of gasoline.[2] Corn production for biofuels is further encouraged by a tax credit of $0.45 per gallon of blended fuel (as of January 1, 2009, down from $0.51/gallon).  One further policy encouragement of corn production for fuel is a $0.59 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol (down from $2.00 per gallon prior to 2009). The tariff, coupled with the subsidy for ethanol production, makes corn ethanol more competitive in the US market, when it would not necessarily be without the government assistance.  These government policies encourage the production of corn to produce biofuels, even if corn is not the most efficient input for ethanol production (which a lot of research shows it’s not).

While corn and US subsidies are the largest target of the food for fuel argument, a similar argument can be applied to other ethanol producing nations such as Brazil.  As a result of increased demand for food products (i.e. corn, sugar cane, soy beans) to be used for alternative energy forms, the price of those commodities increases. It is argued that this drives up the cost of food as less food for human consumption will be produced causing the price to increase.  While the effects of biofuel production is still uncertain, It is generally accepted that the price of corn has increased, even by defenders of corn ethanol production such as former US Senator Tom Daschle, although he claims that consumers have not incurred the cost of these price increases despite the fact that the majority of corn produced in the United States is used to feed livestock.[3] Daschle’s point about the use of corn to feed livestock brings up another aspect of the demand side of the food price question.

So we’ve pretty much covered the basics of the supply side… Up Next: Increased Demand!



[1] Piesse and Thitle (2009) Three bubbles and a panic: An explanatory review of recent food commodity price events.  Food Policy. 34(2): 122.
Farzad Taheripour and Wallace E. Tyner. “Ethanol Policy Analysis—What Have We Learned So Far?” Agriculture and Applied Economics Association 23(3): 7.
Tom Daschle. “Food for Fuel? Myth versus Reality” Foreign Affairs. September/October 2007. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/62845/tom-daschle-c-ford-runge-and-benjamin-senauer/food-for-fuel

Quick, Healthy and Delicious

I came home from the gym today and for some reason wasn’t hungry at all.  After almost two hours, I decided I should probably eat something even though I wasn’t too hungry.  Do you ever have those days where you’re just not really hungry?? I wish they would happen more often.

I looked around the kitchen for what to make and the lovely fella suggested I make a wrap.

So I spread some greek yogurt on a wrap, topped it with a layer of spinach, artichoke hearts, mustard and a Morningstar Tomato Basil Pizza Burger.

Then I wrapped it up and enjoyed!  It was DELICIOUS and literally took 3 minutes to make (and probably just as much time to eat).  I’m seriously obsessed with Morningstar Farms Veggie Patties.  I should be their spokes person.  I feel like I rep for them all the time!

In other news… one massive jar of artichokes down, one more to go.  I give in another 48 hours.

Here’s a little Food for Thought:

My friend sent me this article called “College’s too-fat-to-graduate Rule Under Fire

Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or above, reflective of obesity, must take a fitness course that meets three hours per week. Those who are assigned to the class but do not complete it cannot graduate.

Is this fair?  Is this discrimination?  What are your thoughts?

Grocery Heaven

I love grocery stores.  Maybe it’s my interest in food security of maybe just that I love food but I love grocery stores.  While my current location has a good grocery store (Wegman’s) it lacks a few important grocery places: Trader Joe’s and Costco.

So while I was visiting the lovely fella, I knew I had to stop by Trader Joe’s and Costco.

Ok let’s be realistic, the only reason I went to Costco was to get frozen yogurt at their concession stand… but I also bought…

A 4lb bag of quinoa and 2 huge jars of artichokes, only one jar is photographed because the other jar is pretty much empty…

I have a hunch the December Recipe Challenge is going to include a lot of quinoa.

Then on to Trader Joe’s, since I had a 4 hour drive ahead of me I could only load up on non-perishable goods.

I am obsessed with Trader Joe’s Marinara and BBQ sauce!  Sooo good! I also bought some peanut butter filled pretzels.  Usually those are off limits for me (aka I eat them all in a day) but since Trader Joe’s is a treat, I decided to splurge!

I know it’s sort of cheesy that I hit up grocery stores while far from home, but what can I say… I love food 🙂

Do you have a favorite grocery store?

Back In Action + December Recipe Challenge

The lovely fella and my camera have arrived safely!  Which means I can take pictures again!

This afternoon as part of my daily procrastination, I was perusing some blogs… I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Scones over at Eggs on Sunday.  So I was inspired.  I decided tweek the recipe to fit what ingredients I had at home.  The most notable changes were, greek yogurt instead of cream and pumpkin pie mix instead of plain pumpkin puree.

I’m not gonna lie.  They look better than they taste.

I don’t think my tweeks worked out very well because scones need some sort of fat in them.  Also because I used pumpkin pie mix, I cut down on the sugar (I used 1tbsp of agave nectar instead of 3 tbsp maple syrup).  They turned out plenty moist but sadly not too flavorful…

Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some pumpkin butter 🙂  But today was the last of my baking for a while…

On to the December Recipe Challenge!

In an effort to try new recipes with fun, exciting vegetables and avoid some unnecessary sweets this holiday season, I’ve decided to do a recipe challenge for the month of December.

The basics of the December Recipe Challenge are:

  • Make at least 1 new recipe per week (although I’ll shoot for more)
  • The recipe must include at least 1 vegetable
  • I will try to include more whole grains
  • Make vegetarian recipes
  • Take a hiatus from baking sweets
  • For gatherings/parties/potlucks, bring a new delicious veggie dish instead of a baked good
  • Start Tuesday, December 1st and End Thursday December 31st

Essentially, I’m going to try to cook healthier things to avoid a repeat of last week.  I will share the recipes I use (even if they’re my own) with plenty of pictures.  The goal is to eat more vegetables, expand my cooking repertoire and over all have fun with food.

If you join me in this challenge, e-mail me (foodologie00@gmail.com) a link to your blog post with the recipe you tried out and I will post it on here to share with the world!  If you don’t have a blog, that’s okay too!  E-mail me if you’re interested in doing a December Recipe Challenge guest post!

Are you up for the December Recipe Challenge???

I’m excited to start!  Stay Tuned for December Recipe #1 this week!

Camera Withdrawals

I’m going through some serious camera withdrawals.  I can’t wait for the lovely fella to get here so I can have my camera back!

In the mean time, you all know about my Twilight obsession…

Thirty-Four Ways New Moon the Movie Is Better Than New Moon the Book

Funny, Right?

Ok now for real, I’m going to write my paper.

Tomorrow hopefully I’ll be back with pictures of food and a plan for a new challenge I’m setting up for myself and hopefully others will participate in!

P.S. Look at the Blogs I Enjoy page!  I added a few more 🙂

What Causes Food Insecurity: Part II

Previously, in What Causes Food Insecurity: Part I, I started with one of the factors that contributes to low food stocks: natural disasters.

Today, I’d like to point out another common argument for low food stocks: Government Policy.

One such policy is an import or export bans.  In order protect their national interests, governments often place bans on importing or exporting certain commodities.  For example, in April of 2008, the government of Kazakhstan banned the export of wheat in order to curtail domestic inflation and prevent bread shortages that had occurred the previous year, essentially in an effort to “assure the country’s food security.” Here it’s important to note that Kazakhstan is a large producer of wheat in the region.  While intending to protect their own population, this action potentially hurts neighboring nations that depend on purchase of Kazakhstan’s exports for their food consumption.  See article quoted here.

Other policies that affects the supply of food are import or export tariffs.  In 2008, the government of Argentina increased export taxes on crops in order to keep food prices down.  The idea was that a tariff on exports would make that exported crop more expensive in other parts of the world as compared to Argentina since consumers generally incur the cost of tariffs.  Thus the supply of food would remain high and the price lower within the country.  Argentina’s tariff increase was followed by a wave of farmer protests.  You can read more about it in this NY Times article from 2008.

These policies can promote hoarding of food and can exacerbate a food insecurity problem.

For this reason, the US, EU, WTO and others promote the removal of trade barriers (i.e. tariffs) to ensure the easy flow of food (and other goods) across national borders.

Coming up:  Part III, the final section of low food stocks/more government policy, the current hot topic: corn production/subsidies and biofuels/food for fuel debate.

Back Home, No Pictures

I just made it home a few minutes ago, and sadly I have no pictures.  I don’t usually like to post without pictures but I left the lovely fella my fancy camera so he could play with it and take pictures of his family, but didn’t think that I might want pictures.  Honestly, I didn’t take many pictures because I didn’t want to be the stranger taking pictures.  There were 9 people at Thanksgiving dinner (so a rather small group compared to the latin takeovers that occur at any of my family get togethers).  Everything was fantastic and meeting the lovely fella’s extended family was great.

As for my first vegetarian Thanksgiving… It was fine.  I didn’t miss the turkey at all.  The only sad thing was the lack of gravy but other than that everything was meatless (I ignored chicken broth).  The lovely fella’s mom made a delicious eggplant parmesan, which while she didn’t say was because of my vegetarianness… I have a hunch it was but everyone enjoyed it.

I didn’t miss the turkey but I missed my family 😦

Now I’m back home, hopefully I’ll have picture updates soon.

I hope you all had a fantastic thanksgiving!  Goodnight!

Headed Out

I’m headed to the lovely fellas house in a few minutes.

I got a lovely fella’s family a bottle of wine as a gift

I hope they enjoy it! (I know I did)

I’ll try to keep up with posts in the next few days but no guarantees!

I hope you all have safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Stress Eating

Yesterday, I came home from class, exhausted.  I had been pretty irritable all day and was seriously considering taking a nap but I was hungry so I decided to have an early dinner.  All was well.  I had some broccoli with some faux-“chicken” (aka morningstar chicken patyy) Parmesan.  I started working on my stats project then decided to give in to my day long craving: baked good.

I used this recipe (minus the frosting + peanut butter chips) and made some pretty tasty brownies.

I intended to have a piece then take the rest to school the next day.  However, by the next day, all that was left was this:

Between me and my roommate (aka two girls) we managed to eat all by what is left above.

I’m a stress eater.  I hate it, and I’m trying to deal with it.  I’m posting this because it may seem like I’m a healthy eater and I am 80% of the time.  But 20% of the time I freak out and overeat.

I read a lot of health/fitness/food blogs, most of the time when I read them I find myself thinking “These women are perfect, I wish I could have that amount of self control.”  It seems like they rarely overeat (and when they do, it’s a bowl of ice cream or 4 cookies and most of the time it doesn’t matter because they ran 5690 miles today anyway).  I’m not trying to criticize other food bloggers, but I want to make it clear that I’m not perfect.

As a blogger or a reader, do you ever feel pressure to be perfect from reading blogs?

I’ll end this sort of sad post with a more positive anecdote:

A friend walked up to me and my roommate, he looks at her and says “Thanks for getting me sick!”  She sort of laughs and says: “Karla didn’t get sick and she lives with me!” then she looks at me and says “it’s probably because of all the vegetables you eat and the fact that you exercise and sleep, so basically your overall healthy lifestyle”

I may not be perfect, I may eat half a pan of brownies in one night but overall I’m healthy.

Have a great day!

What Causes Food Insecurity: Part I

In developing nations, I believe a large problem regarding food security is the economic issues associated with food security.  I plan on having another post about international agriculture, trade and the World Trade Organization (WTO), but for now I’ll try to explain some things that affect the price of food.

Some of these are quite contentious and people can argue the effects of one or the other on actual food prices and access to food.  That being said, I will try to provide an unbiased look at food issues.

I decided to break this topic into multiple posts, as there’s kind of a lot to say and I really don’t want to bore you all (not that any of this is boring!!) or oversimplify it to the point of making it inaccurate.

So I’ll start with one cause

Potential Cause #1:  Low Food Stocks

As the supply of a certain good decreases, the price increases if demand does not change.  Today I will only cover one of the things that influences the supply of food in the world.

Natural Disasters: Natural disasters and weather patterns can negatively or positively affect the harvest in any given year.  However, this may not be a particularly strong argument as, generally speaking, countries with adverse weather patterns generally are aware of these possibilities and therefore can often mitigate negative outcomes.

Bad harvests in certain areas are often offset by good harvests in other areas, as was the case in 2007.  Bad harvests the EU and the Ukraine and Australia were offset by good harvests in Argentina, Kazakhstan, Russia and the US.  While weather issues can contribute to decreases in food production and subsequent increase in prices, the impact should not warrant a global food crisis.
(Source: Jenifer Piesse and Colin Thitle, “Three Bubbles and a Panic: An Explanatory Review of Recent Food Commodity Price Events.” Food Policy 34)

Next time… Government Policies that affect food prices

What are your thoughts?