An article published by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year sparked controversy with its headline suggesting that skipping breakfast could be a way to save money amidst rising breakfast food prices. The piece, titled "To Save Money, Maybe You Should Skip Breakfast" and written by journalist Gabriel T Rubin, was part of the newspaper's ongoing coverage of the consumer-price index and inflation rates.
The article aimed to inform readers about significant price increases in staple breakfast items such as eggs, juices, cereal, and coffee. Several factors contribute to the soaring costs, including a devastating avian flu outbreak that has impacted chicken flocks. Rubin highlights that Florida orange growers are facing the smallest crop in almost 90 years due to a combination of a freeze, two hurricanes, and a citrus disease. As a result, frozen and noncarbonated juices and drinks experienced a 1.5% price hike in just one month. Additionally, the article mentions that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to a slight increase in cereal prices.
Many Twitter users criticized the Wall Street Journal for suggesting people forgo entire meals in the face of unprecedented food inflation.
The problem with this narrative is that the system itself is susceptible to shocks because it is profit-driven, which means high centralization and short supply chains. Therefore, when weather, conflict, or bad luck interferes with a sector of the global food supply, the entire system is shocked and prices rise out of proportion to the crisis. This happens, even when food waste is at an all-time high.
There's plenty of food, but the system is vulnerable because Wall Street, which controls most of the food supply, would rather shut down production, cull animals, or raise prices beyond what most can pay, rather than lose money.
The solution for this is to cultivate one's own food supply, either at home, or at least in their local community. Not everyone can grow a garden or keep chickens, but those who can would be wise to do so. Likewise, those who cannot should develop networks to secure food from local sources, such as ranchers and farmers. And for those in urban environments, stocking up over time is a smart way to minimize pain at the register.
Skipping meals shouldn't be necessary in a world filled with abundance. But in an age of artificial scarcity, it's going to be pushed by the elites who rather you blame yourself and go hungry, than them.