So I’m cooking dinner the other night and what’s on the radio but a segment about the rising cost of food. The price of Grade A eggs is up 35% in the last year. Flour costs 37% more. What else is new?

Turns out the story was about food banks and their clients. As you might predict, demand is high and there’s a growing supply side problem, since these days surplus corn goes towards ethanol production. This means a crunch on all of the commodity crops that have historically fed the food bank pipeline. Food bank directors describe clients working two or three jobs who still cannot feed themselves, and a decrease in the purchasing power of food stamps, which don’t adjust up to inflation.

Then came the refrain: there’s less fresh produce to go around than ever.

Last time I volunteered at the food bank the only thing we handed out with any sort of expiration date were one-pound boxes of blueberries. “We don’t get much that’s fresh,” the manager told me. “So this is a real treat.” Half the boxes had moldy berries.

After hearing the radio story I went out to the garden. It’s been cold, I said to the lettuces, but it’s time to start growing. Yes, I talk to my plants. Yes, I know a tiny garden can’t change the world. But I really do believe the little extra we share makes a difference. Fresh food is so elemental to human life that it’s at the center of every culture. And still, in this day and age, people go to bed hungry.

Advertisements