The topic seemed appropriate so I wanted to share a personal story out of my life- and out of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Southern US...
Its weird, now- its been over four years and the obvious destruction of Hurriciane Katrina has faded from the streets, signs of new development and life has moved on.
Yet- the levees in New Orleans are not complete (and won't be till 2011- one more hurricane season to go) And the poverty and memories still linger.
This wh*** food security topic brings me back to the days after the Hurricane. I lived about 60 miles northwest of New Orleans in the State Capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge.
In a span of 2-3 days, the cities population size increased by 200,000 people. Urban Migration/ Evacuation... whatever you want to call it. The system was strained. Roads, hotels, hospitals, everything was filled beyond capacity. Shelters out of basketball stadiums, the red cross setting up on football fields at LSU.
Rapidly, people had thrown whatever important things they could into their
cars and drove off. Food- wasn't necessarily on that list, and as the
days rolled on 3,4 ...5 the system failed.
I remember the food riots. The food distribution system was thrown into a shock as one of the main traveling routes (I-10) was servely damaged, and gas stations between New Orleans and, oh Florida had been destroyed, were out of gas, the owners had fled or all of the above.
It meant that food that use to come from north, east and west, suddenly was only coming from the north and west. Also, simply- grocery stores were not prepared. 200,000 extra people with little adaptation in ordering amounts also helped deplete supplies quickly.
There was not enough bread. Riots broke out. People were hurt. Grocery Stores closed their doors at dusk. There was an increase in robberies in the parking lots- over necessities. Rice, bread, baby food. Do not go shopping alone they said.
I remember early early in the morning going to Wal-Mart, rumored to be the safest time, and walking down isles. There was only left wrappers, squished or badly damaged bread that no-one could figure out uses for- scattered on rows of empty shelves. Each isle showed the same, with odder and less common (or more useless) foods dwindling. Workers were tense, giving no information when any food would be coming in.
I remember mostly women sitting at some of the isles picking through. Sorting through trying to find the best the could, distant as they contemplated the ripped open bag of bread that had probobly been stepped on. Eyes gazing shelves hoping that maybe-maybe there was something everybody else had missed.
I felt disjointed, insecure, panicked. In my head I knew that companies would adjust, and that I had a
source of food through the university, but the images are there. An American City with not enough food for those WITH money.
Its pretty scary to me that this can happen again. That the food riots and panic was lost among the thousands of other disaster related issues (and partially rightfully so). A great nation suddenly had little fuel, an overflow of people and not enough bread.
It really made me rethink my world.