Though the global economy has certainly recovered since the 2008 recession, the effects of that economic downturn are still being felt by countless families across the globe.
We humans need to eat to survive. And the healthier we eat, the healthier our bodies are.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the global recession, it’s been harder for families to eat well-balanced meals on a regular basis. As food prices continue to rise and wages more or less stagnate, it appears as though there may not be much relief for these families anytime in the near future — particularly as some economists predict we’re due for a repeat of 2008.
While people of all ages need to eat healthy, growing children perhaps have the most to benefit from eating nutritional meals. Children’s teeth and bones, for example, need calcium to grow strong. Calcium, of course, is found in milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Additionally, kids need to eat a steady balance of iron in their diet, too. This enables their brain cells to develop correctly. Iron can be found in tuna and whole wheat bread.
Children who don’t eat enough healthy foods when they are growing up risk developing serious diseases down the line like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and mental illness, among other afflictions.
The reality of the modern family’s diet
But due to the uncertain economy, many families simply cannot afford to eat healthy meals time and again.
In fact, new research shows that families in the United Kingdom, particularly those who are less well off, are eating more and more fatty foods like meatballs, instant noodles, pizza and fried food. This is ostensibly due to the fact that folks seem to believe that such foods are less expensive, and they also fill you up.
It’s certainly understandable why folks are choosing to buy and eat these kinds of foods. But a diet consisting of high-fat, processed foods isn’t healthy in the slightest.
In addition to the health risks, children who eat this way have a harder time concentrating in school, and their parents are also likely to be a bit more sluggish, facing health risks of their own.
Why food is becoming so expensive
In the United Kingdom, the price of food has increased 32 percent over the last five years. Between 2005 and 2008, the prices of wheat and corn tripled while the price of rice increased 500%.
Think about your salary over that same time period. Unless you’re someone like Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg, odds are your paycheck hasn’t similarly inflated.
Generally speaking, these food price increases are the result of ever-increasing energy prices, climate change, increased income for many folks around the globe, and changes to global supply and demand, among other things. Couple that with the fact that the global population is growing and food is constantly in demand, and you’ll begin to see precisely why prices continue to climb higher.
What’s more, logistical issues are also contributing to the continually increasing food prices. Due to shaky infrastructure in Central America, for example, food prices can be as much as 15% higher simply due to the fact that it’s difficult to ship it from one place to another in a timely manner.
Altogether, these rising food prices have resulted in food riots in over 20 countries as people scramble to find sustenance. To date, an additional 75 million people around the world have been put into poverty simply because they’re unable to keep up with the soaring prices of food.
As it stands now, these individuals have to spend upwards of 70 percent of their low incomes just to eat. That doesn’t really leave a whole lot of money left over to spend on shelter, clothing and other essentials.
Still, the global consumer must understand the importance of eating a well-balanced diet — even if that’s easier said than done. As food because more expensive, more people are drawn to diets that are heavy in carbohydrates due to the simple fact that such foods are much more affordable than fresh fruits, vegetables and the like. Over time, this can lead to serious health deficiencies as people don’t get the nutrients they need to survive.
But it’s not all terrible news
Though food prices have certainly inched up in recent years, the good news is that, according to the World Bank, those prices have begun to drop off since their peak in August 2012. Still, in Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, food prices have jumped more than 43% since 2010.
While that’s certainly a significant uptick, that area is poised to witness explosive growth due to its increasing imports. The high prices are causing farmers in that region to produce more, and the local economy is healthier as a result. To them, the rising food prices represent a spectacular opportunity to climb up the economic ladder.
The trick, of course, is to find the balance, matching the hungry stomachs with the food producers who have all the reason in the world to keep producing, so long as there are people to eat their food. In an increasingly globalized world, let’s hope we’re getting closer to striking that balance.
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