Increased Food Prices, Increased Community Gardens
Several factors are contributing to rising food prices around the globe. Demand for biofuels in the US and Europe is speculated to be a major reason for the cost increases. The World Food Bank reports that 75 percent of the cost increase may be attributed to biofuel demand. The cost of wheat and corn has doubled, and rice, the world’s most consumed grained, has seen an increase in price of 217%, prompting many rice growing countries to halt exports, further exacerbating food shortages elsewhere, in an effort to feed their own populations. Other reasons for food increases are the increased cost of oil, which has affected the transportation of food and the cost of oil derived products used in growing food like fertilizers.
The World Food Program, part of the United Nations, estimated that as much as 130 million people have been pushed into poverty, due to the increased prices. The program is increasingly facing difficulty in meeting food needs around the globe. The costs for many of their supplies has doubled and reserves of cereal crops has fallen to a 25 year low. Increased energy prices has made it difficult to transport needed food aide.
In California, the rising cost of food has prompted a rise in community gardens.The California Report reported on the Stanford Avalon community garden in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, a community garden created by Mayor Villaragosa’s plan to remediate the lack of public green space in poorer areas by donating vacant city properties. The Stanford Avalon garden sits on property that was owned as part of a public utilities right of way. It is underneath power lines.
The garden has quickly become a focal point within the community. Fresh produce is now readily available and it has helped many people lower their food cost: first, by raising their own food and second, by selling excess food they have raised. The lot sizes are a very generous 200 sf. Due to its proximity to Compton Creek, it is also becoming an education center for water ecology. Sales at nurseries around the city have also increased. Even more affluent neighborhoods, like the Silverlake area, have seen increases in community gardens and backyard gardens. For many, cost of food is a concern, but also there is a desire to grow their own produce as tasty as the fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market.
A similar report was aired on Marketplace earlier in the year. The address of the Stanford Avalon farm is: 658 East 111th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90059 if you want to see it on Google Earth.