It looks bad for our food system. High petro prices is having a negative impact on how grains are farmed either conventionally or organically. the price for flour I buy, Kroger certified organic, has remained steady but I suspect in the next few days the price will go up 50% or so (if it hasn't already, I have not bought flour in about 10 days). This happened with King Arthur flour which I can no longer afford when there are cheaper options that are also certified organic.
I was in TSC buying dog food and looked at the price of chicken feed. It was going for 27¢ a pound if you got it 5 pound bags. It was lower for larger amounts. 27¢ per pound is what I was paying last year for certified organic chicken feed. This year it is well over 35¢ a pound and thus too expensive for us to buy to feed meat chickens. So, for the first time in 12 or so years, we will not be raising chickens for sale or for ourselves (we may still get 30 or so for our own freezer even though they will be expensive birds, we have not yet decided.). I will say local organic feed prices are not rising nearly as fast as conventional and likely would have stayed pretty steady had the Filbruns soybean crop not crapped out on them last year causing them to have to buy in semi loads of organic soy from other parts of the country. Dale told me the soy cost him $22K, double what it cost last year
If we were to raise birds, with the increase in feed, gas and likely processing, we would have to charge at least $7 a pound for a whole chicken. Though at $7 a pound we would profit just $150 for 7 weeks of work. Not our highest profit margin by any means and chickens are a lot more work than produce (which is a lot of work in and of itself).
Already I hear there is some rationing going on in the country. Wal-Mart/Sam's Club is limiting how much rice a person can buy. This will probably get worse. I am wondering if this will be an issue with local foods. People not being able to grow enough for what I think will be a sharply increased demand. though in all likelihood the non-locavores will be slow to realize that if they want to eat they are going to have to find local sources for their food and also will have to grow some of what they eat themselves.
I was thinking about this last night after reading a thread on the SSE forum about food and farming and famine (I have been reading a lot about this over the past 10 years or so and even more in the past month as the mainstream is beginning to realize that our agriculture system is broken and food is important, maybe as important as money) that my county, while rural and a big agricultural county, cannot feed itself because most the acreage is planted in commodity crops-corn, soy with a bit of wheat and other grains and livestock. There are very few produce farms and most of the produce land will be put into sweet corn. I can think of maybe 10 farms in the county producing (non commodity) food on any kind of commercial scale. I think (hope) there are more than that. The Eaton farmers market has mostly very small producers and the biggest "farm" grows nothing at all, they resell what they don't grow (and I suspect they will will be just about out of business after this season).
So how is Preble County gonna feed itself? We cannot eat corn and soy grown for the industrial trades like ethanol (which is the worst idea humans have come up with, perhaps ever.), There is a lot of cattle and hogs raise in PC. But a meat based diet just ain't healthy and a lot of that cattle is grain fed so soon enough will no longer be raised because the price of corn and soy are getting too high. A lot of people have deluded themselves into thinking that we have the best agriculture system in the history of the world but now the gild is off the lily and we can see that the Green Revolution Ag system so dependent on cheap oil has been feeding us bad food and also has been destabilizing the planet for 50 years now. Before the green revolution more people farmed and overall the diet was better (more whole foods and less processed food). In developing countries before they were told told to get modern with their farming people were in great poverty but the family system/culture was intact and people were able to feed and cloth themselves very well. now that they grow for the commodity system they are still desperately poor but because of money they are now taxed by the government, do not have enough to eat and the family system has been broken. But the the people in charge of business are making a lot of money off of the labor of these poor third worlders and of course we in the first world even if we are not rich and powerful get to drink cheap coffee and eat inexpensive bananas.
Change is here folks, cause by a combination of climate change, bad Ag. policies and most importantly greed. I suggest you learn as much as you can as quickly as you can about food, where it comes from, what is in it and how to make your own. if you continue to depend on the corporate tit to feed you will go hungry.