Frederick Kaufman on Stability in the Global Food Supply
Food and economics are two topics that are central to Green21′s focus on sustainability. We know that a reliable food supply is essential to life, right up there with water, and that sustainability in any economic system involves matching supply with demand and incentivizing productivity as well as profits.
So we took notice of Frederick Kaufman’s article ”The Food Bubble” (Harper’s Magazine, July 2010) which tells how a crisis, similar to that which hit the U.S. housing market, had struck our food supply on a global scale.
Between 2005 and 2008, the price of wheat gradually rose, and then skyrocketed. “It was as if the price of wheat was generating its own demand. The more it cost, the more investors wanted to pay,” Kaufman writes. In the article, he goes on to show how the effect rippled across global food markets and increased the numbers of hungry people worldwide.
How did this happen? The story reads like a murder mystery, and Kaufman is pretty sure he’s found the culprit. It wasn’t lack of supply, or any one company that had cornered the market on wheat, but rather a kind of systemic malfunction. And it could happen again.
Check out the article, reproduced with permission here. And stay tuned to the comments section below, where Frederick Kaufman will be offering some solutions.