Sunday, March 27, 2011

Big in Japan

200.4 lbs

Well, binge day 11 has come and gone, a large garlic and spinach pizza is as well. It was not a particularly eventful day food wise unless you read the papers or surf the internet.

Some days I find it hard to align myself with the American isolationist way of thinking. Right now, as we speak, the world food chain is collapsing. There are a number of reasons that this is happening at this point in time. We, as Americans, just very rarely think about it. Food shows up at our grocers, organic or otherwise, and we go and purchase it. I made a rather snarky comment not so long ago about San Francisco being overly concerned about the supply of fresh fish for sushi since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I still stand by my snideness, mainly because it is a much larger issue than whether someone is going to be able to get a philly roll for a power lunch on the wharf. Radioactivity is now contaminating major portions of the seafood supply that the world depends upon, even the supply that comes from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. That is how far it is spreading. Let that sink in for a moment.

Now Japan has very few natural resources of its own. It's an island chain that has been able to use what arable land it has and the ocean around it, to feed its people. A lot of that is now contaminated. The warnings on radioactive food and water are going out daily now and some of that radioactivity has already made it to America. As of this moment, parents are being warned not to drink the water in and around Tokyo because it could be damaging to their health.

What does that mean to America? Well the contamination is spreading into the seawater. Already the Pacific Northwest is gearing up to overcome the food infrastructure collapse in Japan. But a lot of the fish caught in the Pacific Northwest follow the same currents that flow past Japan. See where this is all going?

Now as for North America itself, there has been a long drought in Texas which is putting a squeeze on beef and grain right now. In Mexico, blue agave crops have all been wiped out because farmers could make more money growing corn for biofuel. No mas tequila soon because it takes 7 years for a blue agave plant to mature and it is really hard to propagate agave. It might seem small but in the end it will add up.

Fortuitously, we were ramping up grain production in the United States before all of this to help balance an ever growing trade deficit. Unfortunately, due to our monetary policy and lowered grain prices due to overproduction, the agricultural infrastructure in the Middle East is in a state of collapse and is, in part, to blame for the major instability we are now seeing in places like Jordan and Egypt. Whoops!

Many scientists believe we are heading toward a point where there won't be enough resources to support such a large world population. This may be alarmist but when we lose major segments of the world's ability to produce food it becomes more and more apparent that we don't just live in a safe little box where nothing will have an effect on us. What happens in Japan the next few weeks and months will cause a much bigger ripple than any tsunami possibly could.

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