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The Global Food Crisis

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The Global Food Crisis

The Global Food Crisis

The Global Food Crisis

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90006150/90006301" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Men discuss the price of seafood in Cite Soleil, Haiti. Source: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times hide caption

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Source: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Last week, as I did research for this segment, I swallowed a harsh dose of reality. Global prices of basic foods such as rice, wheat and corn have soared by as much as 45% since the end of 2006 — with much of that increase concentrated over the last few months. Last week, the U.N. World Food Program announced that increases in food prices could leave more than 100 million people hungry. Here I am, shoveling five spoonfuls of rice into my mouth for lunch alone, and that's more food than most kids in Haiti get to eat in two whole days! It's hard to wrap your mind around the realities of what economists are calling "the global food crisis," and what the U.N. has christened a "silent tsunami."

Tyler Hicks, a staff photographer for The New York Times, recently got back from a trip to Port-au-Prince. He saw children and parents sifting through heaps of trash, just to find overlooked morsels of food. But we're also hearing stories about pasta protests in Italy, and Costco stores rationing rice in the U.S. So how are these two seemingly disparate scenes — Haiti and Costco — related? And how did the situation get this bad so quickly?

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Economist Jeffrey Sachs will break it down for us, and he'll offer some suggestions for how we can mitigate the damage. And we want to hear from you. How has the high cost of food affected your life? Have you had to give up some things you would normally buy, or are you literally having trouble putting food on the table?

Check out more pictures from Tyler's recent trip to Haiti here.