People need to eat. Unfortunately, the economic costs of that biological reality continue to rise worldwide.
According to the United Nations, food prices surged to a record high in February as dairy, grain and meat costs jumped sharply.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) index of 55 food commodities rose 2.2 percent last month, the eighth consecutive gain.
This is bad news on a lot of levels.
Rising food prices have been a factor in the unrest spreading through the Middle East. Meanwhile, severe droughts in Russia — and now China — are making matters worse. Surging oil prices, sparked by continued unrest in the Middle East, will add to global food costs, too.
"Unexpected oil-price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets," David Hallam, the FAO's director of trade and markets, said in a statement. "This adds even more uncertainty concerning the price outlook."
The long-term picture looks darkly Malthusian, too.
According to the FAO, climate change and a growing population will pressure food prices for the next 50 years.
Food production will need to climb by 70 percent as earth's population rises to 9 billion, while growing incomes— particulary in booming China — will boost meat and dairy consumption, the Rome-based agency warns.