Our friends at The Guardian Data Blog have culled food data from U.N. monthly food reports to chart price changes over the last decade. We already knew food prices were reaching record highs and may even double by 2030. What their interactive infographic shows us, however, is just how volatile some food types are. Prices for dairy products and sugar, for example, fluctuate wildly compared to meat.
Volatility can be even more dangerous than slow and steady inflation because it makes it hard for businesses to plan, and sharp shocks are harder for the poor to absorb. Beyond Profit recently issued a report on the future of food security for the poor in the face of rising prices and fluctuations. They suggest that urban agriculture and public distribution systems offer some hope for the urban poor in particular as global commodity trends continue upwards in fits and starts. Let's hope those vertical farms pan out (or that we at least get more vegetable gardens in the city).