Just recently ZeroHedge published an article about ag leaders predicting a mini supercycle in commodities.
Let's unpack this a little bit.
What does an agricultural commodities supercycle mean for the average consumer?
The agricultural indices referred to in the article monitor a combination of wheat, corn, soybean, coffee, sugar, cocoa, and cotton prices. They have all been rising for a variety of reasons. One is the Chinese need to rebuild their swine herds after devastating disease outbreaks last year. Swine feed primarily consists of corn and soy. Increased interest in biofuels is also driving price increases.
Corn, soy, and cotton (along with plants like rapeseed and sunflower) are all used in biofuels and now have industrial applications, affecting their availability for use as food. We've already written about steps you can take to produce cooking oil at home.
But what can we do about corn, wheat, and soybeans?
Most of us think of agricultural commodities like corn and wheat as things that have to be produced by people with special equipment. Therefore out of the reach of your average suburban gardener. That is somewhat true. However, you can grow corn in your backyard and eat corn on the cob for a few weeks in the summer.
A kernel of truth about corn
If you grow a lot, you can cut off the kernels and then freeze them to supplement your diet in the winter. But to make any flour, whether, from corn, wheat, or other grains, you need a grain mill. These are expensive enough to deter many people; even the cheaper ones are still a few hundred dollars. If you only have a small plot to work with, it's probably not worth the expense. Unless you have a dozen friends growing corn or wheat in their backyards, and you all plan to share it. (You would need to really trust those friends.)