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A ‘perfect storm’ of hunger

Edmund Sanders and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
… Meteoric food and fuel prices, a slumping dollar, the demand for biofuels and a string of poor harvests have combined to abruptly multiply WFP’s operating costs, even as needs increase. In other words, if the number of needy people stayed constant, it would take much more money to feed them. But the number of people needing help is surging dramatically. It is what WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran calls “a perfect storm” hitting the world’s hungry.

The agency last month issued an emergency appeal for money to cover a shortfall tallied at more than half a billion dollars and growing. It said it might have to reduce food rations or cut people off altogether.

The most vulnerable are people like those in Sudan, whom Joannes is struggling to feed and who rely heavily, perhaps exclusively, on the aid. But at least as alarming, WFP officials say, is the emerging community of newly needy.

These are the people who once ate three meals a day and could afford nominal healthcare or to send their children to school. They are more likely to live in urban areas and buy most of their food in a market.
(1 April 2008)

Food price hikes changing U.S. eating habits

More people say they are eating at home, buying food in bulk

… Steadily rising food costs aren’t just causing grocery shoppers to do a double-take at the checkout line – they’re also changing the very ways we feed our families.

The worst case of food inflation in nearly 20 years has more Americans giving up restaurant meals to eat at home. We’re buying fewer luxury food items, eating more leftovers and buying more store brands instead of name-brand items.

Record-high energy, corn and wheat prices in the past year have led to sticker shock in the grocery aisles. At $1.32, the average price of a loaf of bread has increased 32 percent since January 2005. In the last year alone, the average price of carton of eggs has increased almost 50 percent.
(1 April 2008)

Backyard Chickens
Bucky Buckaw, Global Public Media
… Bucky Buckaw’s Backyard Chicken Broadcast The Farming in the City series will now be incorporating a new focus on urban backyard chickens. Raising poultry within an urban setting provides eggs, fertilizer, garden help and meat with a minimal environmental footprint. Having suffered decades of disconnection from our food, bringing the farm into the city, and in this case animals, can provide a much needed dose of agricultural and food awareness. It’s this very disconnection that has allowed for the appalling conditions now found in factory egg and chicken barns.
(27 March 2008)

Square Trees Grow in New Hampshire
(text and audio)
Amy Quinton, New Hampshire Public Radio
The Society For the Protection of New Hampshire Forests unveiled a new development today that may revolutionize the timber industry.

Forest research scientists say they’ve created a new type of tree that is ideal for harvesting and beneficial for the environment.

But as NHPR’s Amy Quinton reports, the new tree has already sparked a huge outcry from some businesses and environmental groups.

… they’re a lot like a regular tree except from the ground up they’re a square tree, one of the interesting things and we’re not quite sure why this is, but the roots and the branches are still round but the entire trunk is square.

… Savage can see a time when forest managers will be able to grow two by fours, or six by six’s.

… And Jack Savage at the Forest Society understands people’s fears.
He says while the square trees will help the timber industry and to some extent the environment, something intangible will be lost.

“I think a lot of people will be fearful that our forests are changing and that when they look out the sort if higgildy-piggildy chaos of a natural forest in NH won’t be the same, and I have to admit there’s something to that, afterall we’re all tree huggers at heart, and it just won’t be the same hugging a square tree.

The square trees will be ready to harvest on April first of next year.
(1 April 2008)
Hmmm. This is April 1 isn’t it?. The last line of the story is the giveaway that this is a prank.

Press release.