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One of the reasons that consumers may be so concerned about the rising cost of food – and whether anything is being done to address it – is stores like this one in the Washington Post:

"At Stephen Fleishman's busy Bethesda shop, the era of the 95-cent bagel is coming to an end.

"Breaking the dollar barrier 'scares me,' said the Bronx-born owner of Bethesda Bagels. But with 100-pound bags of North Dakota flour now above $50 -- more than double what they were a few months ago -- he sees no alternative to a hefty increase in the price of his signature product, a bagel made by hand in the back of the store.

"'I've never seen anything like this in 20 years,' he said. 'It's a nightmare.'

"Fleishman and his customers are hardly alone. Across America, turmoil in the world wheat markets has sent prices of bread, pasta, noodles, pizza, pastry and bagels skittering upward, bringing protests from consumers.

"But underlying this food inflation are changes that are transforming U.S. agriculture and making a return to the long era of cheap wheat products doubtful at best.

"Half a continent away, in the North Dakota country that grows the high-quality wheat’s used in Fleishman's bagels, many farmers are cutting back on growing wheat in favor of more profitable, less disease-prone corn and soybeans for ethanol refineries and Asian consumers…"

KC's View:
I don't have to quote any more of the story…you get the picture.

At this point, it seems to me, we're just feeling reverberations from scenarios like this one. But it isn't hard to imagine that scenes like these are being played out all over the country, and that stores will end up closing and jobs will be lost. But beyond that, I wonder if we're seeing some sort of cultural erosion at the core of these global food issues. Sure, it is only a more expensive bagel and a shop that may have problems surviving in this environment. But it could be dozens or hundreds of shops, affecting dozens or hundreds of neighborhoods, and somehow as a country we become a little bit less.

And somewhere politicians will debate it on a macro level, and economists will call it progress.