Climate Craziness and What Can Be Done - Capital Area Food Bank
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Climate Craziness and What Can Be Done

By Matthew Young August 15, 2012

Since my last blog post on the consequences of an ever-changing climate on the availability and prices of food, Hampshire College professor and author Michael Klare has written an illuminating, if not foreboding article, “The Hunger Wars In Our Future,” on The Huffington Post expressing similar concerns.

At this point, the focus is understandably on the immediate consequences of the still ongoing Great Drought: dying crops, shrunken harvests, and rising food prices. But keep an eye out for the social and political effects that undoubtedly won’t begin to show up here or globally until later this year or 2013. Better than any academic study, these will offer us a hint of what we can expect in the coming decades from a hunger-games world of rising temperatures, persistent droughts, recurring food shortages, and billions of famished, desperate people.

—Michael Klare, “The Hunger Wars In Our Future,” (August 2012)

Welcome to a food climate where wheat prices have climbed 37.6 percent since early June, and global food prices have risen 6.2 percent since last year.
A few months ago, Fair Food Network founder Oram Hesterman shared on Bill Moyers the steps that some communities are taking to lift the burdens of food affordability for those most in need. This discussion is taking shape in the midst of a volatile climate. Hesterman talks about a program in southeast Michigan, Double Up Food Bucks, that essentially doubles the value of food assistance like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) spent on fruits and vegetables. Basically, a family that spends $30 on fresh fruits and vegetables could earn an additional $30 in purchasing power and invest $30 more into local fruits and vegetables. Ultimately, Hesterman suggests that such a move allows SNAP to be more than, “Simply a safety net for hungry people…we can view it as that and a program that can also help drive local economic development creating growth and jobs in the local food system.”
Such opportunities have been talked about and could be explored further here at the Capital Area Food Bank. Some believe that local economic development requires a downsizing of commercial agriculture that, according to the Institute for Food & Development Policy reports (PDF), threatens soil stability, water resources and subsistence abilities. A local, responsible agricultural economic network could support environmental systems for a consistently bountiful and diverse food supply, while curbing the effects of an ever-changing climate.
Does all of this still sound daunting? No question that it just might. Yet, as I’ve gratefully learned through the last 11 weeks of my graduate internship here at the Capital Area Food Bank, it’s never just the individual who makes change. As American anthropologist Margaret Mead once shared, “It needs to be a group of thoughtful committed citizens.”