That's from 70s James Brown. From yesterday's Guardian, we have a report of yet more food riots. When I was in Iowa City last week, I had a conversation with a farmer who is doing great with the high food prices. "Let the markets work their course." Adele Horn and I tried gently to steer the conversation towards reality mentioning the high cost of food in the third world and government subsidies. He agreed but came back the Ann Coulter's argument that liberals are responsible for millions of malaria deaths in Africa since they worked to ban DDT. I explained that DDT is used widely in Latin America and probably Africa as well. He said no. He went back to his markets argument even though his state of Iowa does not allow corporations to own farm land. If they did, his family would have lost theirs in the 80s probably. I can't remember his name but this story is dedicated to him:
...Tempers flare outside a government bakery as the smell of hot baladi (country) bread wafts out from the ovens. There is pushing and shoving as a worker appears at the window to hand out plastic bags of the rough, round flat loaves - each weighing a standard 160 grams (5.5oz)- to customers.
"I've been here since before six and this is what I get," grumbles Umm Islam, her face contorted in fury. "My husband is retired and I have five children and it's not enough."
Others complain of their pitifully small incomes and shortages. In the last two months 11 people have died in bread queues, either from exhaustion, heart attacks, brawls or accidents.
"We are so badly off now we have to eat dogs and donkeys," shouts another middle-aged woman to raucous laughter from the jostling crowd. It sounds like an outlandish joke, but a butcher was prosecuted recently for selling adulterated spiced mincemeat in nearby Giza.
It looked as if this simmering crisis could trigger wider unrest. Last week, four people were killed and scores more injured and arrested in rioting in Mahalla, an industrial town in the Nile Delta, while a general strike left the normally teeming centre of Cairo eerily quiet. "The strike is against poverty and starvation," demonstrators shouted.
Egypt's problems are part of a global phenomenon, in that the price of the wheat it imports - half the country's needs - has tripled since the summer. But price rises have also cruelly exposed the shortcomings of a stagnant, creaking economy and regime. Prices of cooking oil, rice, pasta and sugar have soared, forcing more to rely on state-subsidised bread - at 5 piastres a loaf (about 0.5p) the main source of calories for the 40% of the population who live on or below the poverty line of £1 a day (about 10 Egyptian pounds).
In Egyptian Arabic the word for bread is aish - life - and getting enough of it is a truly existential issue. "The word is pregnant with meaning," says the left-wing thinker Mohammed Sayyid Said. "It's the basic component of life..."