Longtime Casual Kitchen readers know that I love beating up on rogue subsectors of the food industry. Nothing arouses my indignation more than overpriced spices or branded boxed cereal, or any other area in the food industry where companies limit competition and extract profit out of proportion to the value they provide consumers.
But on the whole, I have to admit that our food industry generally gets it right. The industry adapts to changes in supply and demand very quickly. It supplies a massive amount of fresh and prepared foods to stores all over the continent in a dizzying display of logistics. And, as long as you arm yourself with just the tiniest bit of knowledge about things like cost-stacking and which foods are cheapest in what seasons, you can buy most of the food industry's products at surprisingly low prices.
Yes, there are some Malthusians out there prophesying the end of the food industry as we know it. But, seriously, do you remember the last time there was any kind of a meaningful food shortage in our country?
I do. It was the "rice shortage" of April 2008. Admittedly, some countries--those not fortunate enough to have a food industry as efficient and as responsive to market conditions as our own--clearly suffered.
But in the United States, our rice shortage got fixed in about three weeks. Or in about 1/100th of the time it takes to finish off one of those only-four-per-customer 20 pound bags of rice. That just doesn't happen unless you have an innovative, adaptive and highly effective food industry that gets the right products to consumers quickly and efficiently.
It's funny, I remember a lot of panicked media coverage of the horrors of the rice shortage, but I didn't see a single positive article discussing the fact that our food industry adjusted to it so quickly.
I'm still looking.
Readers, what are your thoughts?
The Problem with Government Food Safety Regulation
41 Ways You Can Help the Environment From Your Kitchen
What's the Most Heavily Used Tool in Our Kitchen? Our Rice Cooker.
The Limping Dinner: Spicy Brown Rice
How to Make Fried Rice
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