My original intention was to blog about last night's Greek-themed cook club that was a delicious success. However, while driving home after having my run rained out this morning, I listened to a report on the BBC about the tolls the rising food prices are taking around the world. I felt a little embarrassed about the luxury my friends and I have to play around with food for pleasure while millions of others are struggling just to eat today. I recognise the comfort and privilege I am fortunate to enjoy in my life. While far from (my concept of) ideal, I know I have a pretty good life. I face my challenges, but I'm very careful about what I complain about. I see everyday in the streets and on the roadsides what a hard life really is.
Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has said that the world is "one shock away" from a crisis in food supply and prices. It is estimated that 44 million people sunk into poverty within the past year (that's about equal to the entire population of countries like Spain and South Africa), and that a 10% increase in food prices could send another 10 million to the ranks of poverty. And to think that one of the biggest concerns of some of the people I work with is too many carbs on the lunch buffet line they enjoy free of charge Monday-Friday.
Protests against the rising costs in Kampala turned sour last week. But according to a recent World Bank news report, Uganda has more serious issues to combat than people walking to work. Inflation has pretty much doubled over the past month to 11.1 percent, and fuel prices have risen by over 50 percent; prices are approaching $7.00 per gallon. Major impact: prices of some staple foods have tripled since December.
Poverty is not a pretty picture, and starvation doesn't look good on anyone. I'm hoping that the "shock" referred to by Mr. Zoellick never happens and some kind of global economic recovery can be made quickly. Is that being too optimistic? Well, cancelled runs and rising food prices are not going to transform me into a Debbie Downer.