From The New York Times-The plate has always been a great fortifier. Soup to heal, stew to comfort, escape delivered in a good piece of chocolate.
But events both at home and internationally are conspiring to shake the confidence of eaters. Global famine, war and disaster are no longer so easy to keep from the table.
Let’s consider, for a moment, the chocolate Easter bunny.
The price of chocolate has been rising. Hershey’s recently said it had increased the cost of its products by almost 10 percent.
The cost of fuel is a culprit, but so are the politics of the Ivory Coast, which supplies more cocoa beans to the word than any other country. While Laurent Gbagbo tried to hold onto his presidency, his rival cut off export of the cocoa crop, and prices in the United States hit a 32-year high.
It’s not just chocolate. Coffee, that other daily solace, is rising to levels that might finally slow the specialty coffee juggernaut. Demand for quality beans is growing around the globe, but drought — possibly the result of climate change — is limiting supply.
But say you can live without a $4 cappuccino or even a chocolate bunny. Prices for the most basic staples are also going up. Domestically, wholesale food prices rose 3.9 percent in February, the largest increase on record for one month since 1974.
Fuel costs are to blame, and so is a shift in how the rest of the world eats. The demand for food is up around the globe, driving prices up. The cost of food worldwide 37 percent from February 2010 to this year, according to figures compiled by a United Nations organization.