The old admonishment of finishing up those veggies on your plate may just take on a more serious meaning, with world food prices being expected to increase.
Scenes of unrest by disgruntled consumers - once sporadic in the past - are gaining an unsettling regularity, as seen from protests in countries such as Italy over the rising prices of wheat pasta.
For decades global food prices have been undergoing a slow but steady decline, as advances in technology meant that high-yield crop varieties provided some form of buffer to the exploding population growth in developing countries.
Results from the latest study released by the International Food Policy Research Institute however, tell of a different story of things to come.
According to the Straits Times, Joachim von Braun, director of the research institute notes that the present day situation is different from the past, and cautions that "the days of falling food prices may be over... (as) the climate risk and climate change situation has increased."
Rising global temperatures and growing world-wide demand have been cited as some of the reasons for the squeeze on our food system, with an astounding 16% global decrease in total agricultural production being forecasted for 2020 - a scant decade from now, reports the Associated Press.
And as consumers from developing powerhouses like China and India become more sophisticated and savvy in the food choices they make, demand for expensive meats and dairy products have skyrocketed, driving up prices for both the goods and grains needed to feed the cattle; which in turn spurs competition as bio-fuel companies worldwide persist in converting already dwindling 'food supplies' to feed industrial growth.
Yet beneath it all lies the more sobering fact that the far-reaching arms of hunger and malnutrition will continue to encircle our poorer neighbours - agriculture communities most dependent on the environment. Scenarios of vanishing wheat crop lands in places like Africa are possible, warns the food research report. Dependency on food imports will also increase as cereal yields decline in those countries.
So has the era of affordable food come to an end?
Perhaps, but the onus of responsibility for that will probably lie on the decisions of some of our more powerful nations like the United States, which have shown continued reluctance to reduce trade barriers and cut support for their own farmers; leaving one to wonder at the extent to which extraneous factors like natural disasters alone can be held accountable for possible gloomy food days ahead. This article was first published in www.Asiacuisine.com Ezine Vol 10 Issue 02 (11 Jan -17 Jan 2008), by Cuisine & Wine Asia – the internationally recognised F&B magazine for F&B professionals.