EconomicsFood ShortagesGlobal Warming/Climate ChangePeak OilSociety

The Price of Food is at the Heart of this Wave of Revolutions

It seems as though the wheels are continuing to show signs of coming off as it concerns the issue of global food security. The recent unrest in the Middle East and North Africa are a testament to that. It has caught everyone by surprise — experts and laypeople alike. The article that follows, which was published by the UK Independent 27 February 2011, provides some of the detail. Click the link at bottom of the quoted paragraph here to read the whole thing:

The price of food is at the heart of this wave of revolutions

No one saw the uprisings coming, but their deeper cause isn’t hard to fathom

By Peter Popham

Revolution is breaking out all over. As Gaddafi marshals his thugs and mercenaries for a last-ditch fight in Tripoli, several died as protests grew more serious in Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah tried to bribe his people into docility by splashing out $35bn on housing, social services and education. Across the water in Bahrain the release of political prisoners failed to staunch the uprising. In Iran, President Ahmadinejad crowed about chaos in the Arab world, but said nothing about the seething anger in his own backyard; in Yemen, the opposition gathers strength daily. — Independent

Again — the need for an “industrial revolution” scale transformation of the global food system can no longer be denied, dismissed, or ignored. Another article recently published in the British press, the UK Guardian 24 January 2011, points our attention to this state of affairs:

Global food system must be transformed ‘on industrial revolution scale’

The existing food system fails half the people on the planet, and needs radical change if world is to feed itself, report warns

by Damian Carrington and John Vidal

The world will not be able to feed itself without destroying the planet unless a transformation on the scale of the industrial revolution takes place, a major government report has concluded.

The existing food system is failing half of the people on Earth, the report finds, with 1 billion going hungry, 1 billion lacking crucial vitamins and minerals from their diet and another billion “substantially overconsuming”, leading to obesity epidemics. Stresses on the food system are reflected in price spikes but the cost of food will rise sharply in coming decades, the report adds, which will increase the risk of conflict and migration. — Guardian

Rhamis Kent

Rhamis Kent is a consultant with formal training in mechanical engineering (University of Delaware, B.S.M.E. '95) and permaculture-based regenerative whole systems design. He has previously worked for the renowned American inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen at DEKA Research & Development, with subsequent engineering work ranging from medical device research and development to aerospace oriented mechanical design. After taking an interest in the design science of Permaculture, he sought extended training with permaculture expert and educator Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. This led to his involvement with design work connected to the development of Masdar City in UAE after Mr. Lawton and his consulting company (Permaculture Sustainable Consultancy Pty. Ltd.) were contracted by AECOM/EDAW to identify solutions which fit the challenging zero emissions/carbon neutral design constraint of the project.


  1. Seems to me that though the apparent focus from country to country may vary, what underlies it all is a deep and powerful surge of ENOUGH! running through ‘ordinary’ people all over the planet. Enough exploitation of the poor by the rich. Enough exploitation of the planet and the biosphere by the man-made money-making machine. Enough lies, corruption and deceit. Enough flagrant disregard of moral and ethical rights. Things are too far out of balance. It’s as if the Earth’s own homeostatic mechanisms are working in and through humanity.

    “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

  2. As a proud Egyptian living in Egypt and having lived the days of the 25 Jan revolution I strongly believe now more than ever that sustainable development based on ethical sustainable practices in farming, and other fields, gleaned from our rich Egyptian culture is the only way ahead for a bright future in Egypt.

    One company in Egypt has already been doing this for 34 years and has managed to create a sustainable community in the Egyptian desert using ethical practices and sustainable farming methods. I’ve been reading on of their annual sustainability reports yesterday and was quite taken with their outstanding achievements. I believe that Egyptian company can be taken as a model for the new Egypt. Here is their sustainability report, have a deep look past the first few pages and you’ll get thrilled! The company’s name is SEKEM (An Ancient Egyptian word meaning “Vitality from the Sun”). Check out the link below for a full PDF of their report:

  3. @ Ashraf

    The report is encouraging and I’m happy to see this kind of initiative in Egypt. I hope you by time can integrate permanent agriculture (permaculture) as a natural part of all your residential areas as well.

    Still I’m somewhat sceptical about the organic supermarket chain project, Organic & More, at side 5. I don’t think supermarket chains of any kind really belong to a new permacultural world.

    Please take a look at the taberna structure, which I find much more encouraging:

  4. Nobody can claim to fully understand the causes of the mideast uprisings, but I’m thinking the brutal dictatorships had more to do with it than the price of food.

    And remember, it all started with one pissed off vegetable peddler harassed past his limits by bureaucrats!

  5. to assume that rising prices of food is what triggered the middle east revolutions is a shallow analysis. there is a complex of factors that contributed to the current chaos. outdated economic and political systems fell apart, however with no real alternative. this leaves a dangerous gap, but at the same time creates a great opportunity that should be seized by positive change movements such as permaculture. it is equally important to encourage and help people in this part of the world to develop their own model based on their local cultural heritage like Ashraf said. hopfully those who will attend the IPC in Jordan will have this vision in mind. thanks Ashraf for the link and best wishes to you and your country. Nadia Attar

  6. Good theme, but bad example using Libya.

    Libya is not a popular uprising because people are starving, it’s a civil war, where western powers are supporting an ethnic minority who control the oil fields geographically. This same minority has tried it a few times before, Gaddafi is not even in charge over there, he’s a figurehead, if the state had chosen to use it’s own military instead of mercenaries, it would start a civil war, it seems clear the state is trying to avoid that, while western powers are encouraging civil war.

    Unless you think starving people would rather buy brand new pick-up trucks, and install brand new anti-aircraft guns and 50cal machine guns in the back, all buying brand new Ak’s instead of buying food?

    As I said, good theme, use Tunisia, Egypt, UAE or by the end of this year another dozen or more countries, but lets not fall for the western media spin regarding Libya.

    If Libya does go into all out civil war, western corporatocracy will be fanning the flames.

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