Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beware of Rising Food Prices

According to the National Climatic Data Center’s latest monthly drought report, 55 percent of the country was experiencing a moderate to extreme drought at the end of June. The drought has hit many farmers hard and has caused corn futures to reach their highest prices so far in 2012.

Being that a drought has the ability to wreak havoc on many different crops, you might be wondering why I would single out corn futures?

Well the answer is quite simple. Corn is the #1 cash crop in the United States, and it’s in an inordinately large percentage of conventional foods. Therefore, in America, corn has the ability to affect the price of food more than any other crop.

Let me take a moment here to say that I’m not a big fan of corn—especially conventional corn. After all, it’s estimated that as much as 86% of all corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. So, I would love nothing more than for people to stop eating conventional corn and foods made or raised with conventional corn—including conventionally raised cattle that are fed corn over their natural diet of green pastures. But for most Americans, giving up corn would require some drastic changes in their diet.

For example, here’s a short list of some of the things that rising corn prices will affect. And if you look at the short list and think you’re doing okay, here’s a much longer list of the various food ingredients that often contain conventional corn.

So with corn prices on the rise, it’s a perfect opportunity to cut back on some of the foods that you may be consuming that use corn as an ingredient and that ultimately may be contributing to ill health.

Another thing to beware of in times of drought is price gouging. Just recently, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned Americans to be on the lookout for gouging, “as the historic drought creates an opening for stores to overcharge unsuspecting customers.” He noted that although he does expect food prices to rise in times of drought, this should happen gradually, and consumers should question store owners when they see a drastic increase in food prices.

At our Beyond Organic Ranches, we have been extremely blessed. We have prayed continuously for rain and worked hard to implement irrigation systems in our pastures, and as a result, we have weathered the drought better than most. We have no plans to raise prices and are committed to doing everything in our power to avoid price increases during this difficult growing season.