Rice shortage strikes fear in Putnam

Dateline: Wed 28 May 2008

Never underestimate the ability of little towns to grasp the full weight of major events. In the wake of 9/11, the local paper, the Banner Graphic, ran the headline: "Mayor urges calm in streets of Greencastle." Mercifully, riots did not break out.

But now the rice shortage is on our doorstep.

A visit yesterday with Steve clued me in. He runs two small businesses out of one shop, and he is no slouch. His family is stockpiling, he said, because of concerns about rice shortages and other global deficits.

"Sam's Club is limiting the amount of rice you can buy," he allowed, telling me news that broke April 23-4 in the Washington Post, ABC etc.

He acknowledged that he and his family are not big rice burners, but he knows that when you mix rice with beans, you get a perfect protein. The fact that consumers around the country have made a run on bulk rice is enough to put the sharper residents of Putnam on red alert.

Steve said he was recently discussing world food shortages and a possible looming economic depression the likes of which we have never seen with friends.

Some of the good old boys, he said, just laugh it off. "They think they can just go shoot deer. I told 'em, 'do you know how long the deer population will last, with everyone after it? Six months.'"

I do not shoot deer, but I admit I have a 25 lb. bag of sticky rice in a cooler in my pantry. This is what comes with a daughter-in-law from Thailand. The rice was purchased last fall from Saraga, an international grocery in Indy. So far, Saraga has not been mentioned in the rice-shortage stories, altho Costco has.

Steve is also concerned, as are we all, about rising gasoline prices. Another working-class friend yesterday mentioned yet another scare that has made the news: rising corn prices. Corn is king, as we all know, even if we did not see the movie.

People are uptight out here in west Central. "Mayor urges calm in streets of Greencastle" is not quite yet the headline, but I am anticipating the possibility of a rerun.

If you missed the rice-supply headlines, here's a place to start:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042303236.html

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