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Posted July 18, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

The Coming Food Wars

  • We’ve been talking about the energy shortage for a while now.
  • But one important group of minerals for fertilizer comes mainly from Russia and Belarus.
  • Because of the sanctions, that mineral isn’t getting into farmers’ hands

Happy Monday!

I’m writing from seat 21E on United Flight 18 from Milan Malpensa to Newark Liberty Airport.

My flight was delayed for 45 minutes because of excessive air traffic over Europe.

My laptop is genuinely that – a laptop – because the stewardess/flight attendant/plane na2i won’t let me unstow my tray table.  Really.

But that’s a trivial inconvenience compared to what’s happening right now, under our noses.

Jim Rickards put out a dire warning of the coming food wars.

In this edition of the Rude, I will talk about how and why I think Jim is correct.

London, Mid-2000s

I can’t tell you how much I regret not studying geology at university.

It’s not that I hate commerce and finance.  Of course, I love them.

But I’m on a steep learning curve when it comes to earth sciences and how they affect our material wellbeing.

And anyway, most of the finance you learn in the classroom isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

The efficient markets hypothesis, no-arbitrage pricing, and the capital asset pricing model go right out the window when reality arrives.

But geology?  Boy, that comes in handy, doesn’t it?

I remember having dinner at my friend Arthur’s house in London many years ago. 

Art was a chef and always made the best meals.

His friends were delightful, and a good time was always had by all.

At one such dinner, I sat across from a geologist named Mark. 

I found him utterly fascinating. 

I remember how his wife and toddler were upset that he had to fly to Chile that following Monday for a long trip of geological surveys.

He worked for Shell, so I assumed he was looking for oil deposits.

I remember thinking, “Man, that’s much more interesting than sitting at my desk watching numbers and shouting at clients all day.”

And mind you, I worked for one of the world’s largest investment banks in one of the world’s best cities.

But people like Mark genuinely understand what these sanctions do to our world.

You Say POTash.  I say potASH.

While we can see and feel the sanctions’ effect on oil and gas immediately, some raw materials take more time to affect our supply chain.

Potash is one such material.

Potash is the building block for many a fertilizer.

It’s a group of minerals that contain potassium, which is critical for our crops to grow.

Without potash, we – and by “we,” I mean “the planet’s farmers” – simply can’t grow enough food for all of us to eat.

Potash is a naturally occurring substance in two countries the Western world is sanctioning: Russia and Ukraine.

One of Russia’s negotiating points about the sanctions is, “You guys need this stuff.”

But the “English majors” running the government have no idea what stuff farmers need and what they don’t.

Knowing this, the US government almost certainly would’ve acted differently.

Food deprivation is one of those things a person, or a population of persons, never forgets.

Remember an uncle or grandparent who suffered during the Depression?

Remember how they used to scrimp, save, and never leave a morsel on their plates?

They were always so grateful for food and admonished those who weren’t.

“You kids have no idea how lucky you are!  We didn’t have anything when I was growing up!”

But most Americans didn’t blame anyone for The Great Depression.  To them, it just happened.

Let me relay a story about a purposeful robbery of food that one nation has never forgotten.

When Churchill Diverted Food from India to England

The parallel isn’t exact, but I think there’s a chance in the future, the world will come to hate – yes, hate – America for what it’s doing.

Because the only reason the world is suffering now is that America and her European vassals have sanctioned Russia.

And if the world comes to agree with me, America will get the blame for the food shortage we’re facing.

Quick question: what do you think when you read this name?

Winston Churchill.

If you’re a Westerner and learned the mainstream version of World War II history, you’d probably think, “That’s the man who saved the world.”

While Pat Buchanan and Peter Hitchens disagree, Churchill’s name is synonymous with bravery, persistence, and strength.

Churchill is the one who held Britain together long enough to get America invested in the war.

He stood up to Adolf Hitler while the Americans watched from afar.

If he hadn’t, we’d all be speaking German right now.

But that’s just one view.

Here’s another: Winston Churchill was a racist bully who willfully took food from a starving India and diverted it to England.

Churchill caused millions of deaths on the subcontinent because he robbed wheat from India to feed England at the height of the war.

To this day, Winston Churchill’s name is cursed when someone even dares bring it up at an Indian dinner table.

From Al-Jazeera:

Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen had argued in 1981 that there should have been enough supplies to feed Bengal in 1943.

According to Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, “Churchill has the blood of millions on his hands whom the British prefer to forget.”

“Churchill deliberately ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles, meant for yet-to-be-liberated Greeks and Yugoslavs,” Tharoor, the author of “Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India,” wrote. 

Churchill is routinely at the top of Most Hated Persons lists in India to this day.

That happens when food, that most essential and sacred part of civilization, is taken away from a nation.

And people never, ever forget.  Especially if there’s one specific, purposeful reason for it.

Significantly, potash doesn’t grow in Africa at all. 

As I’ve said, the poorest always suffer the most from macroeconomic events like inflation and sanctions.

It’s a better than even probability Africa knows what’s going on and why her people are starving.

 And they’re not just blaming America for it.  They’re blaming the charitable and woefully condescending Europeans as well, too, for following America’s dumb plan. 

And guess who’s ready to help fight Africa’s famine right now?  You guessed it.

Russia and China.

Wrap Up

The coming famine will happen because of import bans on the most precious substance people haven’t heard of yet: potash.

But they’ll learn it well and remember it.

The first people to be hurt will be the Africans, as potash is native to Africa.  And they can’t import it now because of the geopolitical kerfuffle around them.

Then, it’ll move to the more developed countries.

But by then, it’ll be too late.

Until tomorrow.

All the best,


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