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VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

Scarce Resources


With the new scare of shortages of wheat due to environmental conditions and disease, can anyone advise me as to the best way to buy and preserve grain or flour in bulk?

Thanks.

suave's picture
suave

As far as I know there's no shortage of wheat here in the US, nor am I aware of any special environmental factors or diseases devastating our fields.  The prices are rising, but I, personally, don't think hoarding is the answer.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I would concur.

I have heard that Costco and Sam's Club have been limiting people to purchasing only 50 or 100 pounds of flour or rice at a time, but that is because people are hoarding, not because there is a shortage. The food crisis is a monetary phenomenon, not caused by sudden scarcity.

All that said, you can keep flour or whole grains in a chest freezer for quite a long time. After that, your next best bet is some place cool, dark, and dry, like a pantry or a silo.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"not caused by sudden scarcity."

The rice shortages in Africa and the asian subcontinent have been a consequence of a number of things, not the least of which was poor rice crops and droughts in a number of key growing regions.

That said, a) flour does not have the same production issues (at least to my knowledge), and b) as a westerner, you probably have nothing to worry about, in any case. If you're a subsistence farmer in Africa, though...

Floydm's picture
Floydm

That isn't true: the UN estimates that this year global rice production is up 1.8 percent. There have been a few localized problems in places such as in Australia, but overall this has not been a bad year in most of the key growing regions*. Africa and Asia are producing more rice than ever, but they aren't exporting enough of it to keep markets running smoothly. They are hoarding, which practically guarantees a breakdown of markets.

If Japan releases a major portion of their rice stockpile, as Prime Minister Fukuda pledged to today, we may see the opposite economic phenomenon: a crash in grain prices when everyone try to sell while prices are high. Ah, the joys of speculation...

* Yes, there are long-term ecological trends reducing the amount of arable land in much of Africa and Asia, but those don't explain this year's spike in prices.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"That isn't true: the UN estimates that this year global rice production is up 1.8 percent."

That is true for this year, yes.  Unfortunately, in 2007, global rice stocks were at a 30 year low.  And, I really doubt a 1.8 percent rise in global production can address the issue.

That said, you may be right, it might not strictly be an issue of production (though it *is* an issue).  After all, populations continue to boom in much of the developing world, and hoarding is happening, probably as a consequence of rice producers unable to meet global demand, forcing countries to protect their own populations.  That said, the current food shortages we're seeing are *not* just a monetary problem.  There really are supply issues at work.

'course, none of this has anything to do with the original question. :)

 Update: Whoops, fixed the link. :)

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Oh, and as an aside, the Japanese decision to give away that rice is actually an interesting one... there are a number of nations, the US included, that are a little stuck here, in that allowing Japan to re-export explicitely destroys the entire reason they've been forced to import the rice in the first place: to prevent market protectionism.

See, rice in Japan is *far* more expensive than anywhere else in the pacific rim.  Why?  Because of protectionist policies that they use to protect local rice farmers.  In order to force them to open their markets, during the WTO negotiations, Japan was forced to import foreign rice, and they have complied.  Specifically, by importing rice and then storing it in warehouses, where it's only used in rice crackers, animal feed, and a few other products.  Meanwhile, the vast bulk of rice consumed by the population continues to be of domestic origin.

So Japan's decision to re-export this rice is hardly an altruistic one, and in fact flies in the face of the spirit of the original treaty.  The problem is, how can you tell them not to when there's hundreds of millions of people on the brink of starvation due to inflated rice prices?

BTW, here's an article covering this topic.  I had a better one lying around, but alas, I can no longer find the link...

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

MY concern is not for wheat production in our country at this time but the implication for wheat supply when, and if, our country assumes a more humanitarian posture relative to the impact of wheat rust in other countries. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25859&Cr=cereal&Cr1=&Kw1=Wheat&Kw2=disease&Kw3=

I certainly would support an increased sharing of our wheat resources in place of our willingness to share arms.  Moreover, I am unaware  of any serious effort that our country is taking to address the eradication of this strain of wheat rust before it comes to the US.

suave's picture
suave

There's a small organic mill not too far from us, at least it was not too far until gas prices hit the roof.  Recently they stopped selling wheat wholesale, putting some bakers out of business, it seems.  Here's an interesting quote from the mill owner:

"There are a half-dozen growers sitting on thousands and thousands of bushels of red wheat and trying to make as much as they can a bushel. In the process, they're messing up what we've built all these years because they're charging too much,"...

 http://www.mlive.com/flintjournal/business/index.ssf/2008/05/too_much_dough_wheat_costs_put.html

Mike

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

the family quickly revolted.  No room for ice cream sandwiches, a place to store a few extra ice cubes, not to mention an extra baked loaf.  So....I gave in, gave up, or simply woke up to the fact that if I was only able to store 35 lbs., safely, how was that going to get me through an extended period of time?  Well, it wasn't, and thankfully I have come to understand that much of the hype of price increases and shortages has nothing to do with my perception, but everything to do with that of the big-wig hoping to cash in on the fear and despair of folks like me.  So....I pay more for my flour, more for my gasoline, more for my energy, and live with the understanding that my dollar is weak.  Some days the wind is knocked out of me, and at others it is simply directed as a force of energy to lift me to realize that some things are manipulated to manipulate.  It ain't fun, it ain't easy, but it is what is, but it is also a cycle. 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The 2008 rice harvest is yet to be counted. 

China is experiencing a very wet rainy season that's boardering on torrential.  Some of the other major growing areas are experiencing wetter than usual conditions not to mention Typhoon and Cyclone activity. 

Global Warming is still in scientific debate but this year is, so far, cooler than last.  The real issue may be that the Sun is not putting out the same amount of energy as in the past (it is a variable star).  Sunspot cycle 24 has just begin and so far there's been no activity, hopefully this will change, otherwise we might be entering a period of lower Solar activity and a cooler Earth overall.

Wild-Yeast 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=180

To quote:  "Regardless of any discussion about solar irradiance in past centuries, the sunspot record and neutron monitor data (which can be compared with radionuclide records) show that solar activity has not increased since the 1950s and is therefore unlikely to be able to explain the recent warming."

BTW, they have plenty of other material on the topic if you want to dig around for it (eg, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/solar-variability-statistics-vs-physics-2nd-round).

As for this year's temperatures, it's only June! :)  Besides which, yearly variation doesn't mean GW doesn't exist... it just means there... you know, yearly variation.  The question is one of long term trends, and it's hard to argue with a long term trend like this:

 

Notice in that graph that year-over-year variations sometimes lead to decreases in temperature, even though the overall direction is up (and up and up).

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

So ..... how long will wheat grain continue to be vital when stored in a cool, dry place or a freezer?

 

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I purchased my larger quantity of wheat berries, not because of lack of wheat but of gasoline.  I just wanted to beat the high cost due to transportation.  Since I have a grain mill and the storage space available, I opted to buy ahead.  

I understand wheat berries that are properly stored last for 5-7 years.  I keep mine in 5 gallon food grade buckets with gamma seal lids in an unused bedroom closet.   

I read another storage tip is to put a bay leaf or two in the storage container as a bug preventative and it won't affect the flavor.  Terry

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

This is from Walton Foods who are purveyors of dried foods in Idaho:

"The Hard Grains all store well because of their hard
outer shell which is nature's near perfect container.
Remove that container and the contents rapidly
deteriorate. Wheat, probably nature's longest storing
seed, has been known to be edible after scores of years
when stored in a cool dry place. As a general rule for
hard grains, hermetically sealed in the absence of
oxygen, plan on a storage life of 15-20 years at a
stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep
proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures."

And:

"After seeds are broken open their outer shells can no
longer protect the seed contents and seed nutrients
start to degrade. Don't try to store unprotected
flours longer than a year. Hermetically sealed in the
absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 5 years at
a stable temperature of 70 degrees F. They should keep
proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
Note: Granola is not a long storing food because of the nuts. They contain high concentrations of oil which go rancid over the short term. Expect granola to last about 6-9 months."

 

On Temperature:

Temperature charts have been conveniently used as an indicator for global warming and from face value appear to offer irrefutable evidence of warming. Individual site conditions where the temperature is taken, has for the most part, been left out of the measurement. Global Warming on top of this data as a basis of measurement is due to urban encroachment of the individual sites over time. Known as the "Urban Heat Island" effect it is the center of much contorversy regarding its contribution to the effect. I find it alarming that the popularatzi method of science, conducted in the public space by non-scientists, has become unquestioned "truth" in the public mind. Being politically correct seems to be more important than the scientific method. The ideology of the Spanish Inquisition seems only to change in form but not intent.

Wild-Yeast

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

If you could refrain from accusing me of some kind of "Inquisition", I'd appreciate it. My comment (which I believe was phrased politely, though I apologized if it came across as offensive)  was meant only to be informative to others who might come to this discussion believing that your (entirely unsupported) statements are fact, without realizing that there is, in fact, two sides to the discussion (well, IMHO, there's really only one side, but I'm probably just brainwashed by the evil scientific establishment).

Now, you may distrust that consensus.  You may believe it's evil, or based purely on political correctness, or that that scientists are simply too dumb to produce valid experimental data.  Be my guest.  That said, I won't tolerate being attacked, and I won't leave unsubstantiated claims unchallenged, lest innocent readers be left with a skewed view on the topic.

 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Yeah, it's off topic, but I can't resist. :)  The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, took a look at the Urban Heat Island effect and concluded that:

"However, over the Northern Hemisphere land areas where urban heat islands are most apparent, both the trends of lower-tropospheric temperature and surface air temperature show no significant differences."

For observers, the UHI affects surface temperatures, as it's a consequence of urban areas storing, and then releasing, radiant solar heat (thanks to concrete, etc).  This result, that high-altitude and surface temperature changes trended basically the same, rules out the UHI as the cause of the temperature increases indicated in the last 50 years of climate data.  This is echoed in the report where they state that:

"Extensive tests have shown that the urban heat island effects are no more than about 0.05°C up to 1990 in the global temperature records used in this chapter to depict climate change"

Originally sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_heat_island

The relevant section of the IPCC report is available here: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/052.htm#2221

Of course, not only was this report produced by scientists, it was created by the IPCC which was part of the UN, so it's doubly-evil!! :)