America’s Food Supply—Vulnerable (Source thetrumpet.com) It’s easy to take food for granted in the developed world. You go to the shops, and it’s always there. But that constant availability of food is not as secure as we’d like to think.
“Cutting off international and national food supply chains is, in fact, the easiest way to bring us to our knees,” wrote Elisabeth Braw, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, in Defense One last week. The United States produces a lot of its food at home—but far from all. Half of its fresh fruit and fruit juice comes from abroad. So does 95 percent of its fish, coffee and cocoa. Braw quoted British geographer Sir Nigel Thrift, who warned, “Our food is transported via increasingly long and complex supply chains that often involve ships; at any given time there are some 100,000 ships at sea transporting food and other commodities. Most of the ships pass through a small number of choke points, which are very easy to attack.” Braw also warned that: Our adversaries might seek to interdict naval choke points such as the straits of Gibraltar and Hormuz, disrupt the delivery hubs that feed major cities, or hack supermarkets’ logistics networks. The British grocery giant Tesco, for example, tracks its products using no less than 100 million data points. That’s challenging enough, but today most retailers operate on a just-in-time system that reduces stocks but requires constant deliveries. That makes the U.S. even more vulnerable: in case of an emergency, the apples from Chile, beef from Brazil, and milk from Austria won’t arrive in time, or at all. With U.S. enemies looking to disrupt computer systems and fuel delivery networks, “we urgently need to talk about food,” wrote Braw. Sir Nigel noted that “people talk about the consequences of the Internet being attacked, but we can live without the Internet. We can’t live without food.”