I heard the most boggling thing on NPR the other day, that there's a shortage of organic eggs and poultry in this country because there's not enough organic feed to keep the chickens in the manner to which they ought to become accustomed -- and that there's a shortage of feed because most U.S. farmers have figured it's just not worth their time and money to go organic.
So. Chicken and eggs, going to be a shortage. Well, not the regular chicken and eggs, but the chicken that is better traveled than I am and processed by people I don't talk to when I buy the bird. We buy organic -- at a price that's about five times that of the Foster Farms stuff -- and every time I pick damp pinfeathers off a chicken before roasting it, I mutter about how the feathers are probably there to make consumers feel as if the chicken was hand-plucked by wifty hippies who are themselves free-range and allowed to forage for sorrel instead of being penned up and forced to scrabble for quinoa in a trough.
(What is it about organic food and its non-food accessories? Every time I buy organic spinach at a farmers' market, it comes with its own rock garden; I'm the only person out there drinking green smoothies that have their own terroir.)
I'd be cool with the chicken and egg thing if I weren't already keeping one nervous eye on the many, many kinds of produce we like to eat, all of which have been severely affected by the drought California's living through. And another nervous eye on beef prices, which have climbed to record highs and show no sign of falling. We don't even buy beef any more, mostly because we're at an age where we legitimately fear our doctor slapping us if we cop to bingeing at Don & Charlie's, but I fret about the prices because that means people who can't afford beef will look elsewhere, and the law of supply and demand will work in favor of the chicken.
("The law of supply and demand will work in favor of the chicken!" Doesn't that sound like something an insane person would scream atop their hay-bale throne in a barn? This is how you can tell Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is in regular rotation at our house -- I have no problem imagining barnyard revolutions that are less metaphors for Soviet history and more like sit-ins at Greendale Community College.)So we're being squeezed on the meat that we're eating less of, we're being squeezed on the vegetables upon which we rely to fill up half our plate at every meal. And now, thanks to the shenanigans currently underway in Sevastopol and surrounding areas, the world's number four corn producer is not to be relied upon. Grain futures have skyrocketed -- good if you're a grain trader, bad if you're a grain eater on a budget.It's hard not to feel a little compressed by external circumstances with so many different sources of food becoming pricier, especially when writers are referring to this as a lost decade for economic growth and wage stagnation drags at us all, especially in a world where we're all eating the same staple crops. I think what I'll do is go back to thinking about the lunacy of someone waving around a hoe as their sceptre of state and investing the lowly pullet with the power of pushing economics on the rest of us.