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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #52

Culinary no-no's

Eating Dirt

 Eating Dirt

A woman dries mud cookies in the sun on the the roof of Fort Dimanche, once a prison, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov. 29, 2007.

Rising prices and food shortages are threatening Haiti's fragile stability, and the mud cookies, made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, are one of very few options the poorest people have to stave off hunger. Pregnant women and children have long prized the dirt as a rich source of calcium and an effective antacid, but for some in the country's most desperate quarters, where thousands buckle under rising food prices and rampant unemployment, mud has become a daily staple. (Ariana Cubillos/ AP Photos )



Men are forced into a police truck after being detained for allegedly looting near the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, April 9, 2008. Haiti's President Rene Preval is calling on Haitians to quit rioting over high food prices, and in his first public remarks since the unrest began last week, told Haitians that soaring food prices are a global phenomenon. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)



From VOA (Voice of America):

As the price of oil rises, farmers are finding it more profitable to raise corn for ethanol, instead of for food.


According to the World Bank:

  • Since 2000, global food prices have increased 75% and wheat prices 200%.
  • The food crisis imperils 100 million people.
  • 36 countries are in a food crisis (Food and Agriculture Organization).
  •  A quarter of the U.S. corn crop (11% of world production) went into biofuels this year.



From the Washington Post:

The World Bank estimates that global food prices have risen 83 percent in the last three years. Hence, food riots in Haiti, Egypt and Ethiopia and the use of troops in Pakistan and Thailand to protect crops and storage centers. Many countries are banning or limiting food exports. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick says that 33 countries are at risk of food-related upheaval. Famine may revisit North Korea, parts of Africa or, disastrously for U.S. foreign policy, Afghanistan.

To many, the villain is biofuels. U.S. and European ethanol programs, intended as an antidote to climate change and an alternative to OPEC oil, stand accused of snatching food from the world's hungry. According to India's finance minister, ethanol is "a crime against humanity." And it is part of the problem. The more corn becomes ethanol, the less will be available as food for people and livestock. In the U.S. farm belt, heavy ethanol subsidies, such as a tax break of 51 cents a gallon, encourage the shift. These subsidies were already questionable, in economic terms, before the commodity crunch. That they might contribute to hardship for the world's poor is another argument for reducing them.


From the New York Times:

Work by the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington suggests that biofuel production accounts for a quarter to a third of the recent increase in global commodity prices. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted late last year that biofuel production, assuming that current mandates continue, would increase food costs by 10 to 15 percent.

Many specialists in food policy consider government mandates for biofuels to be ill advised, agreeing that the diversion of crops like corn into fuel production has contributed to the higher prices.

Skeptics have long questioned the value of diverting food crops for fuel, and the grocery and live- stock industries vehemently opposed an energy bill last fall, arguing it was driving up costs.

A fifth of the nation???s corn crop is now used to brew ethanol for motor fuel, and as farmers have planted more corn, they have cut acreage of other crops, particularly soybeans. That, in turn, has contributed to a global shortfall of cooking oil.


From the Free Republic:

One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America???s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food.

"I don't think anybody knows precisely how much ethanol contributes to the run-up in food prices, but the contribution is clearly substantial," a professor of applied economics and law at the University of Minnesota, C. Ford Runge, said. A study by a Washington think tank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, indicated that between a quarter and a third of the recent hike in commodities prices is attributable to biofuels.


From the Financial Post, April 8, 2008

Who caused the world food crisis?


We are now by all accounts in the midst of a global food crisis: key grain prices were up 40% to 130% in the last year, people are protesting and hardship is mounting. But it could soon be worse. Governments and agencies all over the world are gearing up for a global "New Deal" on agriculture policy to solve the food crisis, which means the people who brought us the food crisis are the same people who now want to fix it.

The World Bank reports that prices of staples have jumped 80% since 2005. The price of rice hit a 19-year high last month, and wheat rose to a 28-year high, twice the average price of the last 25 years. Factors behind the surge in prices are varied, including bad weather in some regions, soaring demand from growing populations, and US$100-a-barrel oil.

But no factor gets more consistent credit for food price turmoil than the international biofuels stampede. Spurred on by what can only be described as massive subsidies and supporting regulations, farmers all over the planet are giving up on food production and shifting to fuel production.

The biggest biofuels boosters are in the United States, Europe and Canada. In the U.S., the leading Democratic candidates are campaigning on even more aid for ethanol. Canada's Conservative government, playing to the farm lobby and a coterie of rent-seeking corporations, has showered millions on the biofuels market. Regulations forcing consumers to convert to biofuel automobiles are in the works.


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We are shoving corn into our gas tanks. In the process, we are taking food out of the mouths of people all over the world.

The effort to help beleaguered farmers has turned into a major worldwide crisis, all for a biofuel that has far more problems than benefits.

The time to stop ethanol fever is now.


CULINARY NO-NO EXTRA:

Janet Evans
posted a blog last week that definitely falls under the category of culinary no-no.


To read previous Culinary no-no's, please click CULINARY NO-NO under my TAGS section.

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