Handling the bacon shortage and school meal programs

View from Rural Route 8

By Jim Suber

The great bacon shortage scare swept over the land, and you would have thought by the outpouring of lamentations and frustration that everyone outside the super-so-called “healthy” school meal program mandated by the giant federal kitchen police department eats bacon three times a day, six slices at a time and is strongly addicted to it to boot.

I know I am. Bacon is my favorite thing about hogs. By far. Too bad they cannot breed pigs to give mostly bacon.

But seriously, I don’t think the end of the world of bacon is coming, at least not for long and not totally.

If the governments allow the marketplace to work, the demand for bacon will mean that each surviving sow will soon be expected to turn out two litters of 8.3 pigs each within 12 months time.

The way pigs eat, expect bacon back in stores and restaurants after the predicted near-end of bacon in fairly short order, pun intended. That is, as long as there is feed pig growers can afford to buy, there will be enough bacon.

But probably price increases are in the offing for all of us. The world is rapidly building to a 9 billion person population. To stick around, we all have to eat something.

Add droughts and wars and it’s likely the food supply will feel stress some time to some degree.

A few days ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its estimate for corn on hand as of Sept. 1 to fewer than one billion bushels. And, the furor over using corn to make ethanol to extend gasoline supplies and reduce atmospheric pollutants instead of using it all for animal feed and human food, continues to sweep the land.

The renewable fuels mandate is going to have to be modified downward or eliminated to serve the political winds for cheaper food. The trouble is food might not ever be cheaper. Everything around us is becoming more expensive, including energy and land.

Leroy Paulsen just returned to Kansas again from his annual extended visit to northern Iowa and again has reported to this column some first-hand information about land prices and production.

Northern Iowa farmers again enjoyed some outstanding yields with corn often above 200 bushels an acre and beans 40 and 50 bushels and the good land itself—some say northern Iowa soils are unsurpassed in the world—more than $9,000 an acre.

Makes you kind of drool, doesn’t it? In the old days when each small farmer in Iowa had a wife, several children and massive corn cribs to store all of that corn on the cobs, they also had many hogs and beef cattle. They fed the stock that rich corn until it appeared they would explode.

The animals could barely waddle onto the trucks that took them away to fairs and packing houses. Northern Iowa was the land of plenty bacon.

Back to school programs… I hear from anxious grandparents how some of the bigger students who need lots of food are stopping off in convenient stores when they can on the way to school to fill up on pizza and donuts. They are sneaking food into school and they are buying calories up like mad from certain venders allowed in to supplement the sparse official digs.

And the weekly variety required of the lunchroom people by the government is compounding the problem.

Is such an intrusive, micro-managing government really a good solution to our problems?

And no thanks, I don’t want to come eat in the lunchroom to see for myself how misguided I am and how great the food is.

I like real hamburgers and home made French fries for lunch.









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