Archive for November 8th, 2010

Another Reminder of the Food Crisis….

Sharon November 8th, 2010

In this fascinating series by The Guardian on food casualties of our ecological crisis.  Well worth a read for everyone!  Consider tomatoes, which are causing riots in Egypt, quite literally. 

They are as much part of the Middle Eastern diet as hummus and olive oil, but the rocketing price of tomatoes has led many families to treat them as an expensive delicacy.

The cost of a kilogram of the usually ubiquitous red fruit has risen seven- or eightfold in Israel and Palestine in the past month as a result of the scorching summer, with some retailers charging up to 14 or 15 shekels (around £2.50).

“People are still buying tomatoes but they are buying fewer of them,” said one Jerusalem retailer. “I am hoping the price will drop soon.”

The Israeli government has waived taxes on imported tomatoes for the rest of the year to help counter shortages resulting from the unusual heat.

The exemption applies to 4,000 tonnes of the fruit, mainly from the Netherlands.

The crisis is easing as a new crop of tomatoes, grown after the intense heat of the summer, are coming on to the market, said an Israeli ministry of agriculture spokeswoman. “One of the problems has been that tomatoes don’t last long once ripe,” she said.

According to Gidon Bromberg of Friends of the Earth Middle East, “We’re seeing the impact of global warming. We can see real changes having to take place on how we grow food for our basic dietary needs.”

One of the things that I think is important to remember is that foods are not automatically interchangeable – consider how you’d feel if your bread or potatoes or rice were replaced with Cassava tomorrow and someone said “well, they are all nice, filling starches…”  People are passionate about their major foods, and it is worth noting the way that those disruptions undermine a sense of stability, even if there is enough overall food.