Most of my entries concern domestic issues. I am, of course, interested in world events but I try not to write about things I don't fully understand and don't have time to research responsibly.
Last week, however, while driving around town on a domestic issue of my own I heard a BBC story about rice shortages in Haiti. Apparently, food prices are skyrocketing worldwide. Many farmers have converted to corn to profit from record crop prices for biofuels and high fructose corn syrup and such. One U.N. worker reported that the price of rice has tripled over - I think she said - the last year and is now at $950 a ton. The headmaster of a Catholic elementary school, in a heartrending example of good news/bad news, told of families desperate to enroll their children - not for education but for the assurance of lunch. He is able, alas, to feed only about 1800 of the 2100 or so student in his care.
Rice. We buy it for next to nothing in our megamarkets every day. And just across the Gulf of Mexico children are hungry for it.
Yes, I know that the rice shortage in Haiti is only one symptom of a troubled political regime. But that does not change children's realities.
On the sidebar to the lower left, you will notice a link to freerice.com. Through sponsorships, this organization provides rice to United Nations hunger efforts when people play a vocabulary-building game online.
Small Child (who is eight years old) adores it, and I'm happy when she uses her screen time on words instead of Webkinz. I set it on level one when she begins, but she always zips ahead. She beams as her difficulty level increases and the grains of rice build up in the wooden bowl. Reading! Vocab! Rice! What's not to love?
The game also provides vocabulary building skills for English learners. If you have a college-bound type around your house you should check it out. And a word nerd like me? Just try to stump me Freerice People....just try.
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that, after this post went up, the freerice.com people did stump me, up around level 46, with natant. I am chagrined.