hey kid, gimme your rice-a-roni

I grit my teeth every time I watch the fuel gage suck increasingly more money each time I fill my tank up at the gas station. I feel annoyed, irritated, but I have the security of knowing I can leave with a full tank if I choose. I may be annoyed at the few extra bucks sucked out of my wallet, but some people are paying much higher prices as the price of oil rises, and they’re not paying to fill their tanks, they’re struggling to fill their stomachs.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick addressed the state of emergency caused by the increasing cost of basic foods across the world, and resulting riots taking place.

A food gap of at least $500 million currently needs to be filled by the international committee, he asserted, which spurred a $200 million promise from the White House on Monday.

Zoellick warned that the progress governments have made, and the trust built in the past years could all be ruined as people panic in the face of hunger. Recent example of this is Haiti, where prime minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was dismissed after protests about the growing cost of food.

The overall cost of food has risen around 40% since mid-2007, the price of rice almost 75%, and wheat 120%. This rise is substantial to the many struggling people spending 75% of their income on food.

The chief of the UN announced Sunday the formation of a new task force to study the causes of the shortage. “One thing is certain,” he said at the conference, “the world has consumed more than it has produced over the last three years.” IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that hundreds of thousands of people will be starving if prices go on like they are.

Many of Americans were surprised when US food retailers Costco and Sam’s Club recently limited the number of bags of rice that can be purchased to four. Before we all freak out, we should keep in mind these bags weigh 20 lbs each, and the retailers assure us there isn’t any food shortage, they just want to ensure that each customer can buy all they need. Hmm, or maybe they just want to seem sympathetic, extending a “we’re all in this together” sentiment while we drive around in our giant cars competing for the same gas that transports their food to impoverished companies. Hey, we we’ll gladly sacrifice that extra 20 lbs of rice during our bi-weekly shopping trip. Just don’t get in the way of us saving the environment with our ethanol-fueled cars.

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