Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The impact of global warming as well as the shift from food cereals to biofuels is starting to be felt in Lebanon: bread makers have threatened to raise the price of bread, so the government stepped in to subsidize wheat prices by selling 50,000 tons at the price of $225 per ton as opposed to $300 price in Beirut. Wheat import in Lebanon is monopolized by a cartel of 12 mills, owned by 10 people. The head of the breadmakers union accuses the government of committing a crime by subsidizing the cartel. The head of the consumers association calls the cartel a group of vampires and blames the minister of Economy and Trade Sami Haddad (him again) for subsidizing it. The cartel: we are falsely accused.


Bedouina said...

I've been reading the blog Casaubon's Book. She's a lapsed English Ph.D. candidate now working a farm, raising four small children, and writing about climate change and peak oil. She has started an initiative with a bunch of other people to reduce their consumption footprint by 90% across the board. Radical, huh?

Anyway, today she posted suggestions for riding out tough times ahead. One of them is to acquire hand-powered tools to replace the electric ones you've got. She specifically suggests a grinder for flour.

My mom when she lived in Lebanon collected old cast-off hand implements (coffee grinders and so forth) for pennies. She decorated her flat with them. (and with locally-made baskets. Lebanese relatives thought she was nuts - why not decorate with enameled faux Chinese vases, and Louis Farouk gilt chairs?)

Seems to me that having a flour grinder would be wise. Where would the wheat come from? Well my cousin was telling me that the people of MiehMieh never starved because they could always grow wheat - he said even in the last war people were growing wheat.

Anyway. Here in California I'm planning to put in some fava beans this fall; maybe lentils too; and it's so easy to grow winter greens in this climate, it's almost haram not to: siliq, and arugula, and mint. And if that goes well, then I'll try potatoes the next year. We'll see...

Bedouina said...

I realize that a flour grinder and a patch of wheat are not a solution for the vast majority of Lebanese poor. But the things Cuba has done with local, urban food production might work for Lebanon, no?

Rami Zurayk said...

definitely local food systems, including urban agriculture (see and follow the links for our work on Urban Agriculture in Lebanon and the Middle East)