The Price of Bread
In 2005 I bought my first home. During this process, I never really thought about what kind of neighbours I would have. I was very fortunate. On one side I had a hard working single mother that would help me maintain my property whenever I was away and on the other, I had a retired polish couple, Jan and Irina.
Jan had lost both his legs in a car accident 30 years prior, but that did not stop him from spending every moment outside tending to his large vegetable garden. He was a man with a strong opinion based on his life experience. Half of that being in Poland and the other half in Canada. Because of his disability, he did not leave his property very often and so with any opportunity he had he would start a conversation with me. Even if he noticed I was busy, he would continue talking as I said “see you later” and walked away, which made it very difficult to end a conversation. After a few years, I realized that many of his life experiences, though far in the past, may prove to be useful to me in the future.
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” – Winston Churchill
One day I started thinking about how fragile our food system was, and how a small disruption in the growing or transporting processes could easily cause a shortage for weeks or even months. With this in mind, I asked Jan if he ever thought there would be a food shortage. He quickly answered “no.” He had lived through food shortages in Poland during World War II, and from his memory, there was always a way to get food if you had enough money. So food would be available, but its price could go as high as the moon. His statement made sense, but what if you have unlimited money that is worth no more than toilet paper? In that case, you may need other things of value to use for barter. I recalled the few weeks when New Orleans was underwater from Hurricane Katrina. During this chaotic period, the only currency people would accept were alcohol, cigarettes, and food.
In the past decade, it’s become more common to hear about currencies inflating at higher than normal rates. The most recent is the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. For most of us we never really have to think about something as simple as the price of bread, however, in Venezuela, the cost has skyrocketed to a point where you now need to fill a wheelbarrow with money to buy a loaf making it a luxury to eat. The inability to live even a simple, comfortable life has pushed an estimated three million Venezuelans to flee into neighbouring countries since 2014. The majority have come to Colombia, many of which have resorted to panhandling for money and food.
Food in Colombia is relatively cheap, so there is no good reason for anyone to go hungry. For this reason, we have started a program to feed both the homeless Colombians and displaced Venezuelans that are on the streets of Medellin. With the help of local volunteers, we have begun delivering meals to these people, and the response has been great.
For as little as $5 we can feed a family of two adults and one child with two large meals that include chicken, rice, beans, an egg, avocado, and fruit.
Let’s all start by giving enough to feed a family for one day.