There are two schools of thought about food theft. One says it’s theft and should be treated as such. The other says it’s morally and ethically acceptable to steal from billionaires who price food out of the mouths of the poor…
Peasants rebuffed at Paris City Hall: the French Revolution was already under way…
Here we go…
I’m sure ell my readers already have their minds made up one way or the other on this question. But please, everyone, give the other side the chance to plead its case…
For the prosecution
“We all pay for food theft‘, says Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois, perhaps the most-quoted Canadian authority on food trends economics and related issues.
“According to some industry data, an average-sized food retail store in Canada can have between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries stolen per week. With the relatively narrow profit margins in grocery, this amount is huge. To cover losses, grocers need to raise prices, so in the end, we all pay for grocery theft.”
Thin profit margins? Oh, yes. Less than 5 per cent on some products. But huge operations like Maple Leaf Foods and the Loblaw’s supermarket empire still manage to squeeze out millions of bucks a year.
“According to some industry data, an average-sized food retail store in Canada can have between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries stolen per week. With the relatively narrow profit margins in grocery, this amount is huge. To cover losses, grocers need to raise prices, so in the end, we all pay for grocery theft,” Charlebois insists.
For the defense
The following is a sampling of Twitter responses to Clarlebois’ comments about food theft, and supporting the ‘conventional’ stance that ‘theft is theft’ and ‘criminals are criminals’:
“Counterpoint: pricing people out of being able to afford food is worse than stealing food from a billionaire to survive.”
“Some of you have never seen Les Mis and it shows…”
“Do you think it’s appropriate for grocery shops to inflate prices beyond the affordability of their own low paid workers? Or for people who stack the shelves to be resorting to food banks? Or for anyone to be desperate enough to risk a criminal record because they’re starving?”
“Grocery chains waste more food daily than is stolen from them in months, years. Prices are high because they want record profits – during a nation-breaking recession. Theft is cheaper than hunting down the CEOs and eating them.”
“I 5,000 percent support [stealing food from corporate supermarkets] because people invented capitalism but did not invent the need to eat.”
“Food is a right, not a privilege.”
Welcome back to good old 1789
Is the next step a replay of the infamous (though some say inevitable) French Revolution? The French Empress Marie Antoinette never actually said, “Let them eat cake”, in response to warnings that, “The peasants are revolting. They have no bread.” But legend credits her with setting match, figuratively speaking, to La Bastille and triggering the popular uprising that saw thousands of rich and titled folks (whole families in some cases) guillotined or just slaughtered in their beds.
I’ve said it before…
And I guess I have to say it again: A wholesale change has to be made in how the economy runs.
It’s time for the one percent, which controls 99 percent of the world’s wealth, to ease its grip and let the wealth flow. Or the masses will be on their doorsteps with flaming torches and deadly weapons demanding a common sense response to this crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen in centuries.
Because an innocent Tweet about an academic’s position on food prices has revealed the potential for real, bloody consequences if something is not done. A significant number of people have already decided it’s not wrong to steal from the rich to ensure their, and their families’ survival. What next?
~ Maggie J.