Rising Food Prices
When food suddenly costs more, those who can least afford it get hit hardest. And it is women who most frequently eat last and least.
Anyone who shops knows the cost of food is on the rise. But while Canadians spend less than ten percent of their income on food, people living in poverty can spend as much as 80 percent. When prices mushroom, these people must do without.
The problem began in earnest in 2008 when prices suddenly rose to a sharp peak, then fell slightly only to rise again to yet higher levels in 2011.
After decades of progress, the number of people without enough to eat is actually increasing. It could soon top one billion. That's more than one in eight people waking up hungry and going to bed hungry.
Women and girls, who already represent over 60% of those going hungry throughout the world, tend to be disproportionately affected by rising food prices because of deep-rooted gender discrimination.
Food price spikes are caused by a wide range of factors, ranging from the rise in oil prices, which increases the cost of producing food that is mechanically harvested and processed, to climate change, which wreaks havoc on agriculture and causes crops to fail. Short-sighted biofuels strategies play a part too – taking food off of people's plates and putting it into car tanks. And dysfunctional commodities markets mean that food prices go up faster and higher than they should.
But despite all these complex causes, the effects on poor people are painfully simple. Women skip meals to feed their families.
It's time to grow out of food price spikes.
The way to grow
Food price spikes happen because of things like climate change and our growing demand for fuel – so a major part of the solution involves getting those root causes under control.
But what's also needed is more effective global handling of food price crises when they do happen. That way, the poorest families have somewhere to turn even when things do get desperate, and women no longer have to choose between feeding their children and feeding themselves.
For our world to grow together, we need to get food price spikes under control.
Find Out More:
Read Oxfam's Fact Sheets and Reports:
- Why are Food Prices Rising?
- Preparing for Thin Cows: Why the G20 should keep buffer stocks on the agenda
- Living on a Spike: How is the 2011 food price crisis affecting poor people?