AS I stirred the simmering stock, it occurred to me that onions, garlic, oil, salt and pepper are common ingredients in most dishes. People all over the world eat pretty much the same meat, grain and vegetables, only cooked in wonderful and creatively different ways.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is coming. The government is making sure that there are enough supplies so that everyone can shop at decent prices. Imagine ...what if we couldn’t afford chicken or rice? What if we ran out of sugar? Talk about a disaster of national proportions! Every Malaysian would suffer.
Yet there are people who live on little or nothing in many parts of the world. My grandma used to insist I finished my plate. She’d say, “There are people starving in Somalia so eat up,” although I doubt if my fattening up would stop the hunger in Africa.
For people in the developing world, rising food costs doesn’t just spoil a celebration. It increases the risk of malnutrition, which reduces brain function and can have lifelong impact on health and earnings. The World Bank estimates that food price changes between June-December 2010 pushed 44 million people back below the US$1.25 (RM3.90) per day extreme poverty line.
What if this is the start of a long-term pattern? How much would that slow global progress over the next 50 years? Last year, high food prices caused riots across Africa and the Middle East that toppled leaders from Tunisia to Egypt.
This June, the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil accepted that global warming may have something to do with the extraction of fossil fuels. El Nino is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean while its reverse, La Nina, is indicated by the cooling of surface waters. The twin patterns influence global weather and affect food crops. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.
The IMF forecasts the world population will reach 7.15 billion by 2014, with more than 40 per cent in Asia-Pacific nations and 36 per cent (2.6 billion people) in India and China.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that over the next 50 years, food output will have to rise 50 per cent to cater to two billion extra people and their growing appetite for meat.
The US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) reports the worse drought in the Midwest and has slashed its forecasts for 2012 corn production by 13 per cent. Corn prices have surged by 90 per cent since July 2010.
What this means is that snack foods and soft drinks containing corn syrup will cost more. Because corn is used for animal feed and bio-fuel, food processing will increase, causing the cost of meat and diary to rise as well. The USDA believes this will create an “above normal” food price inflation in 2013.
Wheat futures in Chicago (the biggest agricultural futures market in the world) climbed on July 23 to the highest level since August 2008 while soybean futures climbed to a record figure on the same day.
The futures market is a very important hedging tool for the farmer who is always in possession of physical supplies. Futures are liquid, and traded on an exchange.
Between 1990 and 2010, the total global per capita consumption of meat increased by 1.2 per cent annually. Between 1990 and 2004, in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the amount of available agricultural land has shrunk by 4 per cent.
The situation in a nutshell: (1) More people demand more food (2) Bio-fuels and farm animals are consuming a larger proportion of crops (3) Climate change is lowering yield and increasing risk of crop failure, and (4) Speculation and protectionism are amplifying the resulting shocks.
We can eat more mindfully. Stop wasting. Start putting aside extras for those truly in need, get involved in the crusade to eradicate poverty and to create a more harmonious and balanced world.
Bringing a perspective
What are the benefits of coaching? Why bother over-analysing everything? It’s like you’re in trouble and weak.
Thanks for asking. I get this question often. One great benefit of being coached is to get some altitude from everyday situations so that we can simply experience what is, distinguishing what is real and actual from what our mind thinks, judges, expects, or believes should be happening.
As a writer I experience great emotional purification when I can take concepts and ideas that seem complex inside my head and represent them more simply on paper. When I create this “distance” from inside my head to outside on paper, or when I can notice and feel the sensations from inside my body and then describe them in words and gestures, it brings me great release and lightness of being.
The skill and exercise I’m describing is very useful when one needs perspective and momentum for moving forward. The ability to step back and become aware of possibility and potential instead of being stuck in our stories and resigned to what appears limited is greatly liberating.
When talking, are you always aware of what your intentions are? When people take you by surprise by their response (as they often do), how you do feel about that? Coaching helps us welcome feedback and hold differences without personalising. In other words, we feel better with regular “clearing” of our clutter!
Coping with ambiguity
The other day I called a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. From the moment we started talking, I could sense that she was angry about something. That made it difficult for me to talk normally. Soon both of us were getting defensive. I got off the call wondering what I had said wrong.
Is it safe for me to say that something about this incident is causing you discomfort? If so, just notice where that upset is in your body. Become aware of what that feels like.
So it sounds like you had an expectation about this call but things didn’t go as planned. What do you want, now that it’s happened? Are you willing to drop that, let go, and be complete about that even if there are things left unsaid or misunderstood? Or would you prefer to hold on to that discomfort, knowing what that feels like and seeing how much space that occupies in your life?
There are two way of seeing things: (1) Let there be empathy for your friend and whatever it was that she was going through at the time (2) Practice compassion for yourself — know that you have good intentions and that you’re a good person. You did not set out to cause misunderstandings.
They say that a person’s maturity or wellbeing is measured by the degree they can cope with ambiguity, uncertainty, and chaos. How well do you sit on the scale of 1 —10, 10 being the highest score for “enlightenment”? Just remember, we’re all human and on a journey to our best selves.