Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's food, it's fuel...

It doesn't much matter which, it's going through the friggin' roof!

I've been keeping track of some commodities and currency prices, most notably gold, silver and crude oil, along with the euro, the pound and the Canadian dollar. Knowing that there is some controversy now about how corn should be used, either as a food source or as an alternative energy source, I was interested in finding out about the prices of corn futures. As the chart shows, there was a price spike in 2004 which showed an readjustment in 2005, but there was a much bigger price increase in 2006 that hasn't come back down yet, effectively doubling the price of the commodity compared to the standard prices of the rest of the chart.

A former student showed me an article from earlier this year linking farm policy with obesity, how U.S. taxes and subsidies are making it easier and more profitable to produce the crops that are used in processed foods, which are on average much higher in sugar and fat. Corn is a large part of that, given how much sweetener in the U.S. is made from corn syrup.

If there is a bright side to some rising prices, it might make Americans consider their lifestyles just out of economic necessity. I use the word "might" in that sentence, because as I mentioned in my review of American Theocracy, Americans currently have a negative savings rate. A lot of people have no idea what "economic necessity" means.

I wonder what Marvin Gaye would say in such a situation?

Now playing: Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
via FoxyTunes


pissed off patricia said...

Your post reminded me of something I heard yesterday as bush was speaking to a group, I believe in Virginia. He was talking about how great the economy was and then he went to subject of corn. He began by saying, "If you're a hog grower" Then he continued by saying, "I don't guess many of you are..."

I agree with you anything that changes the eating habits of this country might be a good thing.

I think from what I have heard of this holiday shopping so far, a lot of people have learned the meaning of "economic necessity"

dguzman said...

Marvin would say, "Aw, mercy mercy me" I think.

Did you hear Michael Pollan's lecture on the problem of having so many corn byproducts in our foods? It was on our local NPR the other night, but I wasn't sure if it was national or not.

I think many Americans are figuring out that the so-called "robust" economy ain't so much after all, but there are still too many people who don't know the difference between "want" and "need." Our consumer culture just makes me ill sometimes. About the only shopping sprees I tend to go on are for books and for groceries. Anything other than that just makes me feel like I'm buying into this consumer culture.

sfmike said...

Actually, Marvin would have sung, "Sexual healing, my body..."