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Food & Hunger

Wait, a country is actually burning hundreds of tons of perfectly good food?

Flickr: Kurman Communications, Inc.

Say you’re the leader of a country (one day maybe!). Your economy is weak and your people are suffering as a result. They start to worry about hunger, because your country’s past is riddled with periods of mass starvation.

What do you do?

Would you burn hundreds of tons of food, videotape it and then air it on national television, celebrating the act as heroic?

No, you obviously wouldn’t do that.

But that’s what Russia is doing, even if it sounds straight out of Orwell’s “1984." Russia has mandated that any food coming from certain countries has to be burned and videotaped with two impartial witnesses standing by.

What?

Here’s the “rationale:”

Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia last year after the country belligerently inflamed a civil war in Ukraine. The sanctions mainly target financial institutions, corporations and figures close to the government.  

Russia responded by banning various food imports from these countries.

The Wall Street Journal has a great chart illustrating the countries affected.

Basically, Norway, Spain, Germany, the US, France, Canada and several other countries can no longer export food to Russia.  

In 2013, Russia imported about $43 billion in food products. $9 billion of food would be covered in the ban.

As you would expect, this has caused food prices to climb. For instance, fish and seafood prices, foods that used to come in bulk from Norway, have risen 33 percent.

That’s a lot for ordinary people to handle, especially as the economy declines across the board.

Enterprising individuals have tried to get around this absurd ban by forging origin papers for shipments.

If discovered that the food is of illegal origin, it is seized and burned in the official, taunting manner--broadcast afterwards for all to see.

Recently, 114 tons of pork were incinerated.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians are demanding that the food be given at least to homeless shelters and other destitute places.  

But that has not happened yet and if food from the wrong place arrived in the country tomorrow it would probably be thrown into an incinerator.

As Masha Gessen for the New Yorker brilliantly wrote, “If the media succeeds in selling the idea of food incineration to the Russian public, that would mean that there is no idea too crazy, too frightening, or too disgusting for the Kremlin to make the law of the land.”

Quality food should never, under any circumstances, be destroyed. If you agree that people in harsh situations should not suffer from hunger then TAKE ACTION NOW by calling on members of the US congress to reform emergency food aid.* 

(*If you are reading this on a non-mobile device CLICK HERE to get full instructions on how to make this call).