When I was younger, at almost every meal I would hear my Papa complain about harga naik and food crisis. Always ada something naik harga – ikan lah, ayam lah, sayur lah. NGL, it did stress me out lah. My family memang tak kaya pon, so every time my family talked about harga naik, I got worried, walaupun I tak paham sangat pasal food crisis.
I’m older now and when the cost of food in Malaysia increased this year (and my local chap fan stall started charging me almost 20% more than usual!) I realised that harga naik = food crisis = stress naik.
What Causes the Food Crisis
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices in July were 13% higher than a year ago. And guess what: prices could keep rising! So the food crisis isn’t really about there not being enough food to go around, tapi that not everyone can afford it sebab dah mahal.
But why did the cost of food naik in the first place? It mostly boils down to supply chain issues. There’s a lot of people involved in getting food from one place to the other. This includes farmers, factories, dan lain-lain. So when one of them is affected, it affects the whole chain. Major worldwide conflicts like the one happening between Russia and Ukraine as well as the COVID-19 lockdowns are big factors that contributed to the naik-ing of harga we’re experiencing now.
Here’s a totally real and not made-up example inspired by my favourite tiktok of 2022, possibly of all time:
Bees sell corn-based cereal. (🎵It’s CORN 🎵)
Cows sell corn (🎵a big lump with knobs 🎵) for 10 bucks per KG,
which the bees buy to make their corn-based cereal.
But the sheep started a war with the cows! Oh no!
Cows can’t sell their corn to the bees now.
So the bees have to buy corn (🎵it has the juice~ it has the juuuice 🎵) from the penguins.
The penguins sell corn for 20 bucks per KG,
cuz they live in Antarctica and shipping is more expensive.
The bees buy the Antarctic corn but the cost of making cereal is now higher
and because they have to keep paying their worker bees,
they have to sell corn-based cereal at a higher price.
(🎵I can’t imagine a more beautiful horrible thing 🎵)
AAAAANNND that’s the TL;DR of why food prices are pricier now.
Also here’s the tiktok in case you haven’t been blessed today.
intro song for any meal/snack with corn 🌽 – from iconic interview on @doingthings
OMG. So… how now? Should I just eat maggi during the food crisis?
Omg no! Of course not. As someone who grew up in a household with food anxiety, I betul-betul paham how the current food crisis can put a huge stress on the whole family.
But even in these tough times, it’s important to keep your body nourished with the right food. Because besides hunger, malnutrition is actually another danger of food crisis.
Often, when a food crisis hits, we end up resorting to eating out a lot and while it’s convenient and may make you feel like you’re saving money, it usually does the opposite. Though prices are increasing, it is still possible to eat well, without always choosing food that will cost your health later.
Here are some ideas for eating healthy on a budget. Don’t worry, I tak buat sendiri: I had help from Joey Eng, who works for UNICEF Malaysia as a nutrition expert!
1. New & Improved Nasi Bujang
It’s usually rice, a fried egg and soy sauce, but this recipe is healthier!
Try swapping out your deep-fried egg for some tempeh which costs under RM2. Boleh tambah some kobis bulat for less than RM6 a KG, which should be enough for at least 5 meals!
2. When You’re Craving Instant Noods
Ditch instant for a healthier alternative! Grab a pack of affordable bihun which cooks in under 2 minutes, throw in an egg or ikan bilis and top it off with some cooked bok choy. All cheap cheap and you’ve got yourself a meal lengkap dengan carbs, protein and fiber.
3. Chicken Soup For The Soul
Okay I know price of chicken mahal now, but not if you can spread a whole chicken for up to 6 portions! ABC soup is perfect for rainy days and can be made with extra veggies (AND CORN!!) for extra healthy goodness. Be sure to break down the chicken too so tak bazir!
The food crisis is a tough one. Of course, I know eating healthy all the time isn’t possible for most of us. It’s okay to indulge once in a while; after all, we’re not perfect. However, your health is worth so much more. So during even these stressful times, be sure to think wisely about what you put in your body.