How the Earthquake in Chile Affects our Food Supply

AP Photo/ Fernando Vergara

If you shop in grocery stores or eat out in restaurants, then you will be directly affected by the recent 8.8 scale earthquake in Chile.

How so? Well, there is a pretty decent amount of goods that America imports from Chile. In fact, in the year 2006, Chile exported about $9.6 billion dollars worth of goods to the United States. Yes, that is $9.6 BILLION. The United States is Chile’s biggest export market.

The major export from Chile is actually copper. This accounted for a good $4.1 billion of the exports in 2006. The second biggest export from Chile to the United States in 2006 was fruit and prepared fruit products, such as frozen juice concentrate. Our grocery stores also get a large amount of their wine, seafood, blueberries, grapes, apples, pears, plums and other stone fruits from Chile.

So then what does all of this mean to you, the consumer? Well, you may not be able to find these exports in American grocery stores and restaurants. Or, you may be able to find them, but it will be at a very high cost to you.

You’ll notice that in many news articles, such as this recent one from Daily Finance, that the Chilean Exporters Association is urging American consumers “not to panic.” This is where I choose to disagree. I say, maybe this IS the time to panic.

Let this be an eye opener. If the food supply in America has been changed by a natural disaster that occured about 300,000 miles away, maybe it is time for us to take a hint and realize that our society is entirely too reliant on imported foods. These suppliers are not infallible. We all need to take measures to be more self reliant. Our grocery store shelves are obviously not going to remain indefinitely stocked. The only way you can truly have a reliable food source is to not rely on grocery stores.

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