Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Food Shortages?

My friends in Kuwait are complaining about the price of tomatoes. The price of tomatoes in Kuwait?? Can a Kuwaiti cook without tomatoes?? 😉

I remember when suddenly, rice, a reliable cheap staple, suddenly went through the roof, and then, disappeared from the shelves when India announced a shortage and refused to export Indian rice. Kuwait, and other Gulf countries, announced they were buying unused farmland in other countries to insure their food supplies. But tomatoes? I thought everyone in Kuwait grew tomatoes, at least in winter.

And then, today, I saw this article on creeping food shortages:

Another lackluster monthly jobs report took center stage Friday. Stocks rallied, and government bond yields remained at rock-bottom levels as investors anticipate more action soon by the Federal Reserve to drive down interest rates even further.

Reports about how much slack the U.S. economy still needs to work through — like unemployment — understandably get the spotlight. But investors may be overlooking an even bigger story as the developing world stages a sharp rebound: Shortages of items like food and commodities are once again becoming a major concern.

Prices for agricultural commodities spiked so much on Oct. 8 that they triggered daily movement limits on the Chicago exchange. Options markets saw prices for commodities like corn soar more than 13% during the day following reports of supply shortages around the world.

Commodity-oriented exchange-traded funds like the PowerShares DB Agriculture (DBA) leaped as well. The ETF surged almost 10% over the previous week, with more than 6% of the gains registered on Friday alone.

Supply and Demand Discrepancies

A sharp shortfall in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s corn production forecast, due to poor weather patterns, also helped set prices soaring around the world. U.S. corn crop yields would come in 4% short of prior estimates and drop to their lowest levels in 14 years, the Agriculture Department said.

Fears of commodity shortages in the face of surging global demand are leading to export-slashing. Ukraine announced a sharp cutback in the amount of commodities like wheat and barley it would allow to be shipped out of the country. The likelihood of a major discrepancy between supply and demand have led to surging prices worldwide. European wheat prices rallied 10%, with other commodities, such as soybeans and cotton, climbing as well.

Still, investors should be cautious because commodity prices are known to be extremely volatile and difficult to put a price on.

Fundamental Forces

Nevertheless, rising prices are creating alarm about humanitarian concerns. Morgan Stanley (MS) and the U.N. have warned about the prospects of a rerun of the 2007 food crisis that slammed the developing world.

See full article from DailyFinance:

As we drove across the United States this summer, we saw acres and acres of US farmland, unworked, for sale. Farming is a tough life, and fewer and fewer families are still farming. It’s scary and sad.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Shopping, Social Issues | 5 Comments

Flounders in Pensacola Beach

“We’ll have to take you to Flounders.” our Pensacola friends said, and we wondered, because we hadn’t seen Flounders on our trips to the beach, and we hadn’t seen it advertised. One day we Googled it, found it on the map and headed for the beach.

They don’t seem to need to advertise. Even if there is a parking spot in the parking lot (not a given) you are likely to have to wait. Even on a weekday, when you think no one else will be there. And what a very cool place.

The place looks beachy, there are usually people sitting out front, waiting, and you can see this huge boat, The Flounder:

Now that the temperatures have dropped about ten degrees, the entire restaurant is open, and it is heavenly. If it gets too hot or too cold, there are garage-door-like barriers against the elements, but for most of the year, Flounders can stay open to the sea breezes.

Prices are reasonable, portions are too big, service is quick and friendly without being overly intrusive. There are volleyball courts, a landing and a large area for children to play in.

We’ve seen a lot of birthday parties at Flounders; children’s and grown ups. 😉 They are owned by the same group that owns McGuires and Crabs: We Got ‘Em. Each of those restaurants has a unique menu, and we really like that each has such GOOD food.

So for our first visit, there are two MUST-ORDERS; to test a Florida seafood restaurant, you have to try their Seafood chowder and you have to test their hush puppies. Both were spectacular and memorable:

They were so good, in fact, that less that a week later, we went back for more.

We also had appetizers for lunch; I had the Baked Parmesan Oysters and AdventureMan had the Fish Tacos/Nachos. Both were SO good. Worth a trip across the bridge, which only takes maybe 20 minutes from our house. 🙂

The next time we went back, we also tried the Fish and Chips – very very good, served hot and crisp, lightly battered, tasty fish – and a slice of the Key Lime Pie, which was also very good, although not quite as tart as we like it.

Not only would I go there again in a heartbeat, but keeping a gallon of their chowder in our refrigerator for dinner sounds like a winning idea to me.

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 1 Comment

A Thankful Heart

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends, who celebrate their Thanksgiving today. I wish each of you a thankful heart and a day full of blessings.

Yesterday at Christs Church, The Rev. Neal Goldsborough talked to us about thankful hearts, and how a thankful heart precedes faith. So I wish you all, all my readers, thankful hearts.

(photo from the archives of The Ames Historical Society)

October 11, 2010 Posted by | ExPat Life, Holiday, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Values | 4 Comments