How bad will it get for you?
Our world’s food supply is increasingly under the strain of multiple factors: inflation, war, and drought just to name a few. But should we be panicking about food scarcity in the future? Will it impact you directly?
If you follow the headlines and various social media channels, you might think the doom and gloom of famine are right around the corner, but is it really? Before every storm that impacts an area, we see empty store shelves. Every hint at a reason to panic or have a concern, and you see people stoking the fear by posting pictures of XYZ store’s one aisle with empty shelves.
Food scarcity has become a popular talking point to whip up views, but is there any truth to it? This blog will examine this issue from a logical, evidence-based approach and not a fear-based perspective. We will tell you up front that, yes, there is room to be concerned. If you have followed my channel for any length of time, you know we are very level headed and not out to scare people, but you need to pay attention to what’s happening. We’ll cover the reasons for concern in this blog, but even more importantly, we’ll cover the solutions in the second half of this blog, so you’ll definitely want to stick around for that. So let’s jump in…
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YES, THERE IS A COMING FOOD SHORTAGE
The facts are out there. The cost to operate farm or ranches, or input costs, are way up because of low feed grain supplies, high fertilizer prices, and even fuel costs to operate all the heavy and light machinery. Many ranchers have taken advantage of the current high prices and sold off many of their herds. This will challenge supplies in fourteen to fifteen months. As we mentioned in other videos, natural gas is used to make fertilizer. The cost of natural gas has been way up since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and it will likely climb even higher still owing to the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, even though they were offline, and the increased demands of winter. Fertilizer production takes a back seat to people’s essential heat.
The grain production and exporting normally done by Russia and Ukraine have also been significantly reduced due to the conflict. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies alone. Add to this sunflower seeds and oil. Ukraine is the highest volume producer of this oil seed. Russia is the second largest. Beyond grain, these two countries are also significant exporters of iron, steel, and wood products, all of which are needed for a global economy to grow. Even this is related to food scarcity in some ways. If you can’t build an economy, it falls into a prolonged recession. This leads to massive inflationary pressures. That, in turn, leads to what the experts call a “Food Mirage,” where categories of food may be plentiful, but prices are beyond the means of low-income households. You might see this phenomenon now if you’ve cut back on your beef purchases or stocked up on flour.
Finally, as we covered in another blog, grain hoarding activities of India and China make grain more expensive and global supplies tighter. The fact remains that most countries don’t produce everything they need to feed their population. Even countries with ample land and water for food production favor cheaper exports where they can. There are very few banana plantations in the contiguous United States, for instance, and though we grow plenty of fruits like grapes and avocados, we import even more. Though California produces 90% of the tomatoes in the United States, it is also 35% of world production. Likewise, while the United States accounts for less than 2 percent of global rice production, it ships almost 5 percent of global exports and is currently the fifth-largest exporter. So, you may pass by on your morning commute a crop of something thriving in the field, but there’s a solid chance that what is growing there will never reach your dinner table. A supply chain may see that food shipped off to cheaper manufacturers overseas before making its way back to the United States via supply chains that have, at least in the last year, proven incredibly fragile, at best.
All of these human-made challenges aside, a natural crisis is occurring at a rate we haven’t seen in a while. We won’t put it anywhere on par with the dust bowl, as some would have you believe, but there is no denying similar conditions are fomenting. The whole western part of the United States is in a multi-decade drought. It’s drier and hotter than it has been in hundreds of years. Some heatwaves are so prolonged that they have disrupted fruit setting on the vine. This was the case with the California tomato harvests that are down to their lowest levels in decades. And, here we are talking hundreds of thousands of metric Tonnes lower. We don’t want to cherry-pick the fruits and vegetables here. If you do the research and talk to the farmers, you will know that challenges from weather, drought, heat, and other natural extremes have dropped production rates around the world for rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum, barley, and more. We will put links to some of these farm reports below, so you don’t have to just take my word for it.
We will be the first to tell you that hurricane Ian literally went right across the citrus belt of Florida, some 375,000 acres. That state has produced 70% of all US citrus over the last decade. The citrus harvest began around the middle of September. While it is too early to tell how much of it will be a loss, it’s safe to say that citrus trees laden with fruit don’t fare well to sustained winds of around a hundred miles per hour. Right now, farmers can’t even get out to their crops to assess and report the damage, but it would be wise to brace for a citrus shortage and the high prices that will come with that. Ongoing problems like soil salinity will plague the most impacted areas for years.
The manmade and natural challenges to our food supply combine to give the supply side of the equation a very dismal outlook. From economics to war, to input costs, to lower harvests, to drought in some places and floods in others, I’m not going to lie; the answer to the question of whether we are facing a food crisis is an emphatic “yes.” Still, do “you” face a food crisis?
HERE’S WHY THE ANSWER MAY BE NO
Some countries worldwide are heading right into famine in the next year and possibly through the rest of this decade. There’s no doubt about it. They have never produced the amount of food required to sustain their populations. The sale of other minerals, chemicals, and industrial commodities allowed them to purchase the needed food for their people. Those food resources are now highly priced and straining these countries’ economies to the point of collapse, or they aren’t available for purchase and importation anymore. Ukrainian grain exports are lower than they have ever been.
Then some countries do produce enough of a type of food for their population but have long generated income by exporting. These countries are no longer exporting as much if any, grain. China and India are the best examples of this. China, in particular, is hoarding grain and suffering through some pretty extreme weather events right now. They’re not likely to up their exports to save the world when they need the food in their own country. Producing enough of a type of food to feed your population, however, is becoming more of a rarity these days. The food produced, however, needs new distribution channels. Establishing these new channels that turn to a country’s own population doesn’t happen overnight.
There’s a severe lack of food diversity that leaves many throughout the world vulnerable. Our ancestors foraged and ate an abundance and diversity of different foods, but modern agricultural processes have specialized our food resources to a handful of staple options. These forgotten foods, edible but rarely commercially produced or harvested, compose around 200,000 plant species, but they have been put aside in favor of higher-yielding or better consumer-appealing crops. Hand a person a Sunchoke, Pumpkin or Sweet Potato leaves, Purslane, Moringa, Goose Berries, a bag of Buckwheat or Amaranth, or a handful of Chocolate Berries, and you will get some pretty odd looks.
So, in assessing your and your area’s potential for food scarcity, you must ask yourself a couple of questions. First, how dependent upon external sources of food are you? If all your food comes from a grocery store, you will suffer worse than someone who grows even a little bit of what they eat. If all your food comes into your area on trucks, you will have a more challenging time with any shortage. So, how removed from the soil are you? If you live miles from where the food comes from, you are last on the list when shortages occur. Second, how dependent upon very specific staples are you? If your diet relies on one or two grains like wheat and oats, you probably aren’t in a position to pivot and pay up for quinoa, amaranth, or almond flour. Some alternate grains might not even be readily available where you live.
Third, how close to the food are you? And by this, we mean, do you cook it yourself, or do you rely upon restaurants and food processors? It’s one thing to go to a store and buy an increasingly more expensive can of minestrone or french onion soup. If your economy holds up, and there isn’t another onion crop failure, or there’s wheat enough for the pasta in your minestrone, you might be okay. Otherwise, would you know how to cook either of these soups, where to source onions, or how to make your own pasta? If you answer that you can do that by sourcing locally and cooking on your own if you had to, you will suffer far less than someone who responded that they couldn’t.
So, while we don’t think every living plant will wither and die like in some science fiction or fantasy movie, leaving a world’s population starving, we can’t deny that shortages will occur. In the next few years, you will hear more about shortages, supply chain failures, crop failures, and even famine. There won’t be any shortage of doom and gloomers posting pictures of their local grocery store shelves or lamenting about how they can’t get this or that food item. In some cases, this will lead to runs on stores which will further impede food supply issues. How dependent upon the very narrow fixed system of production, how specific your diet is, and what you know about food and food preparation and sourcing will be the factors that determine the extent that the coming global food scarcity will impact your life. It’s undeniable that there will be less food in the system. Therefore, there will be diminished options for most and challenges for everyone.
Is the coming food shortage real? Yes. Will it impact you directly? Let’s answer that with a maybe. In a country like the United States where there is a food abundance, you may be able to pivot and change your diet, pay the higher prices and just have food as a more prominent line item in your budget. Most people in the world, however, aren’t in that situation. As they suffer, it will put upward pressure on prices and supply. So, you will feel the impact of the coming food shortage even if it doesn’t directly impact your daily caloric intake.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So, what can you do? Start by asking yourself those questions, then work to become more dependent. We think food independence and not just storing food is such a huge issue moving forward that we will be making it a significant topic on this channel. There is food scarcity coming, but there are things you can do to lessen or even negate the impact that will have on your life.
First, turn to locally sourcing your resources. Shorten that supply line, so it doesn’t rely upon other countries. Where’s the closest small-scale farming operation to you?
Second, buy bulk and set aside to keep your food reserves high. Buying a mega-size 2-pack of cereal might seem more than you need right now, but you’ll be glad to have the extra box set aside when the farm reports are made public. We know many people who form their own little family co-ops, buy in bulk and parse it amongst themselves. That’s a great solution. You might not be able to eat a bushel of apples, but you could certainly save money by buying extra and swapping them with others in your co-op. Apples, by the way, are one of the crops looking to do well this year. So, there’s a glimmer of good news.
Third, grow something. Figure out a way, whether that is sprouts and herbs on a window sill, your own hydroponic system in your garage, or a container garden on your balcony. If it gets truly bad, that food production will be critical to you. Though you may be unable to eat all the sweet potatoes you grow in a 40-gallon container, the surplus harvest can be traded for other food resources. You might not eat from the fruit tree you planted today for several years still, but planting it now puts a long-term insurance policy on future food insecurity.
Fourth, cook and preserve every morsel of food you buy. Dehydrate, freeze-dry, powder, stew, can, pickle, or whatever other method works best for you. This builds up your inventory and teaches you vital skills that can be applied to existing and future food resources. When the people suffering through the Dust Bowl ran low on food, they rendered some of the only vegetable matter still available to them, the tumbleweed, edible by pickling it.
That brings up the final thing you can do here to lessen the impact of food scarcity–diversify your diet and cook for yourself. That’s really two things, but we put them together here because if you’ve never sprouted red amaranth, you can get 40,000 seeds for under $6.00. If you get a few sprouts sprinkled over your fish at your favorite restaurant, you will pay up for it. Still, you must know how to sprout this grain from seed. You have to know in what ways you can eat it, whether you actually like the taste of it, and whether it agrees with your digestive system. All of that has to come now, before the more extensive food crisis strikes, so there’s much you should be doing now.
There is a looming food crisis, and it is barreling right down upon us. As a prepper, what you do now will determine whether that will impact you. As we mentioned earlier, we’re working on blogs to roll out over the next several months to teach you more food independence. We want to link to a couple of critical, must-read food blogs we have done in the past that will provide you with the minimal basics of what you should have in place. The first is How to Easily Build a 2-Week Food Supply. If you don’t have this in place, you will be a victim of whatever disaster comes your way. We guarantee that. So, please let this be your starting point and watch this video. The second blog we suggest here is 3 Months Is All You Need As A Prepper – Here’s Why. Specific preps can be extended and rationed to last even longer than you plan for them to. A food shortage may not require you to turn solely to your stored food. If it doesn’t, knowing how you can stretch your supply will be critical to your survival. Finally, watch 16 lbs of Food to Keep you Alive: Crucial Prepper Pantry Food Items. Understanding the low-cost, high-yield foods you could be eating now to offset shortages elsewhere might soon mean the difference between an empty bowl or food in your belly.
Look, we are facing a food crisis for reasons of our own making and reasons far beyond our control. We will be honest with you; we may have reached the apex in the collective history of our food production and supply. That doesn’t mean it is all downhill from here, as some would want to scare you into believing. It does, however, mean that you will have to change your ways if you plan on thriving through this long, slow, disaster of global proportions. We hope you take this seriously, watch the other recommended videos, and get your food preps and security in better order.
As always, stay safe out there.
Corn & Soybeans: https://www.agriculture.com/news/crop-progress-report-92622
Underutilized Crops: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neglected_and_underutilized_crop
How to easily build a 2 week emergency food supply
3 Months Is All You Need As A Prepper – Here’s Why
16 lbs of Food to Keep you Alive: Crucial Prepper Pantry Food Items