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Opinion – Food Prices and the Micah Challenge

September 9, 2010 3 comments

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

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