Home > Opinion > Opinion – Food Prices and the Micah Challenge

Opinion – Food Prices and the Micah Challenge

Last evening I attended the CWR Intercessory Prayer Evening in conjunction with Revd Joel Edwards from the Micah Challenge. I found that I couldn’t get past his first statistic and had difficulty in concentrating on the prayers due to the impact of this appalling statement: ‘As a result of recent increases in world food prices and the impact of the food futures market, potatoes in Ethiopia (a staple food) have shot up from 7p to 40p per kilo’.

I started to think about food. Imagine if that’s what you or I were paying, but in Pounds Sterling. Can you work out how you’d manage such a huge uplift in your food bill if potatoes went from £7 to £40 per bag?  I couldn’t – and the thought stayed with me well into the evening. Throughout today the statistic has troubled me.

Last evening’s event at Waverley Abbey House was part of the Micah Challenge 10-10-10 Global Initiative to ‘hold Governments to account for their promise (in 2000) to halve the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty by 2015’.  The Micah Challenge takes its name from the Old Testament prophet and his well known exhortation in Micah 6:8 – ‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’

Over the past 24 hours, I have revaluated my idea of being thankful for the food that I eat. I was brought up to say grace before every meal. But in all honesty, this has simply become a meaningless repetition. I admit that I take the availability of food for granted. I expect to be able to eat. Food is all around us. Am I thankful? Probably not. How do I know that? Because my attitude mostly says otherwise.

This morning, for the first time in a very long time, I was truly thankful for my breakfast cereal – and I told God so!

The media inform us that bread and cereal prices are on the way up after various disasters around the world have forced shortages on the world market. Will we in the UK suffer? I doubt it. Certainly not on the scale of communities elsewhere who do not have the ‘benefit’ of our western economic ‘buffers’ which largely protect us from the wildest swings in price. Not so in the developing world. Food pricing is a daily ‘life and death’ issue. Make no mistake, food pricing is both a political and a spiritual issue.

I’m horrified to read of the high levels of food waste here in the UK. Apparently, everyday we throw staggering amounts of food away in this country (an estimated 8.3m tonnes per year). This is wrong and it’s probably also ‘sinful’ (to use theological language) to misuse scarce resources in this way. Literally millions of children go to sleep each night without having had anything to eat. It’s time to do something.

On Sunday, 10th October 2010 (10/10/10), Christians around the world are invited to join up to 100 million people via the Micah Challenge to pray, act and give a voice to the global poor.  For more details go to www.micahchallenge.org

You can read my earlier blog post here on a similar theme: https://eddieolliffe.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/opinion-bank-lending-a-basic-unfairness/.  

For a copy of Joel Edwards book, Just Mercy (CWR) linked to the Micah Challenge, visit your local Christian bookshop or go online at  http://www.cwr.org.uk/store/p-864-just-mercy.aspx

  1. September 9, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Agreeing with all you say, Eddie.

    Interesting and appalling at LST today: a conference leaving, and for reasons known only to themselves, half the departing delegates simply didn’t turn up to breakfast — so at about 9.30am we had our Conference Manager coming round knocking on office doors more or less begging staff to go up to the dining room for a fried breakfast so that the kitchen wouldn’t have to simply trash all the food they’d prepared.

    I and many other staff enjoyed our unexpected (and, of course, unnecessary!) extra breakfast but I wondered what on earth has gone wrong with us as Christians when people are willing to simply waste food like these conference folk did this morning…

  2. September 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks to Jonathan Adams for posting the following on my Facebook link. I thought it was worth copying to here;

    ‘Eddie, thanks for a very thought provoking post.

    For the past two weeks the main water pipe to our house has been leaking (due to 130 years of corrosion!) and consequently we have had very poor cold water pressure, sometimes no water at all. I’ve …been having to go 3 floors down to the cellar, where the water pressure is better, to fill up my 10 litre jerry can to use in our flat on the 2nd floor. To have a half decent bath requires 3 trips. It affects the washing machine, dishwasher, toilets, kettle, hot water tank, just having a glass of water whenever you feel like it. Now the water is fixed and I’m thankful, but it does make one think about the people in countries who have to travel further for water each day, have to endure appaling sanitation and don’t have the ‘cushion’ of knowing that ‘the water board will fix it soon’.

    Same goes for food. I’ve just thrown out a bowl of rice that had gone off because we hadn’t eaten it. And I often moan about lack of finance! A lot to consider’.

  3. September 12, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Thanks to Steve Bunn of Compassion UK for posting the following comment on my blog entry to his Facebook page. I thought it was worth copying to here;

    Compassion support 90,000 children in Ethiopia, we as a family support a young lad called Getu, I had the real privilege to meet Getu recently along with his Compassion project worker who shared the difference sponsorship had made in Getu’s life, we spent the day together and it brought home to me that we really can make a difference one child at a time, please pray for all the children in Ethiopa who will struggle even more as a result of these price increases in their staple foods
    And consider reaching out to the one…

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