Food is an easy commodity for us to negotiate in this country, although it hasn’t always been so. Those who settled this land managed to withstand hunger thanks to unparalleled work, guidance from the native Indians and some blessings from the hand of Providence.

But now, almost a century after the Great Depression, Americans are discovering that putting bread on the table isn’t as easy as it used to be.

For starters, there’s today’s economy. When you combine high unemployment and inflation percentages, you get a combined percentage that economists in the ’60s starting called the “misery index

.” Right now the misery index is at 12.87 percent – its highest level since 1983.

But those pains are evident in other statistics. Take food stamps as an example.


Since 2007, the number of Americans on food stamp programs has jumped from 27.0 million to 45.3 million, according to the USDA – that’s a staggering increase of just over 67 percent.

The households that are on food stamps saw an even bigger increase of 76 percent in that same span from 12.1 million to 21.4 million households.

And last month a Time magazine poll showed 13 percent of the respondents said they “have been hungry because they could not afford food.”

Yet that same report showed the percentage of consumption spending dedicated to food dropped from 22 percent in 1950 down to 7 percent in 2010. (TIME, Oct. 10, 2011; “How We Spent”)

In other words, food is more affordable than ever in our monthly incomes – yet the number of Americans who cannot fit it into their budget is growing exponentially.

Lost in all of the statistics is the fact that we have so much food in the first place. American producers, both large and small, provide a wealth of commodity goods that are safer, healthier and more affordable than ever. Our food production system isn’t perfect, but the bounty outweighs the hazards by a country mile.

And still, there is that staggering question of why so many people and children – even in this country – do not have enough to eat.

In times of Thanksgiving and harvest, we are first and foremost obligated to show gratitude. We offer thanks for what we have and recognize how much worse our fate could be.

But there also must be a renewed effort to do more with the opportunities given in agriculture and food production.

To make safe and affordable food even safer and more affordable to those who still feel pangs of hunger. That’s the clarion call for a nation that has much to be grateful for.  end_mark



David Cooper