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Food As Currency, by SwampFox

The following is intended as an intellectual exercise.

Our nation has been the victim of the slide toward globalism over the last couple of decades. We still retain our independent Dollar, but for how long? The European Union has a unified currency that is a model for the rest of the world. There have been attempts at an Asian currency as well as a North American currency, which was briefly titled the “Amero” and even heralded by a short-lived government website, back around 2007-2008. But there is one thing that unites all humans – the need to eat.

My thoughts on this subject were triggered in part by a sci-fi novel. When I’m working long hours, I listen to audiobooks to pass the time, and I listened to The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. While the setting of the book was admittedly farfetched, one section stood out to me. This novel was published in 1974, but contained a vision of what life would be like in the 2020s. That vision was almost an aside in the test, but it gave me the chills. Some predictions were eerily accurate, like the decline of medical care, the devaluing of the aged, and the rise of LGBTQ culture and relationships. In the middle of this description was a section about wars over ration cards and calories as currency. With this inspiration, I figured a brief look at the topic would be in order.

There are many among us who are Bible-believing Christians, so the Book of Revelation is probably familiar. That book contains a description of global government, global economic control, and possibly a global currency. Revelation 6:5-6 is particularly salient. “When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I saw, and behold, a black horse, and its rider had a balance in his hand;  and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not harm oil and wine!”

Some translations of the text use the term “penny” or “denarius” for the coin used for payment. Other translations simply use the idea of a “day’s wages.” In Roman times, a denarius was the coin used to pay a common laborer for a day’s work. So I started with this idea. What is a day’s wages right now? In my area, a common laborer can get an unskilled job in construction, or as a trash collector, or in a store for between $13 and $15 per hour. Assume $15, which is the minimum wage for which the left prefers to advocate. Assume also a workday of 8-10 hours. The “denarius” of Bible times can thus be calculated at a value range in 2022 of $104-$150.

A quart of wheat, barley, or other grain doesn’t carry a lot of calorie value. It can make a survival ration for two people. I looked at the weight of grains such as barley or rice, and most of them come out to be around 1.6 to 1.8 pounds per quart, and around 3,000 to 3,200 calories for a quart. Not a lot of food for a day’s wages. A family of four would be spending almost the entire earnings of two working adults just to eat. Notice also that different foods command different prices. A quart of wheat is the same price as three quarts of barley, for example. So apparently in the future foods will be ranked by value. In The Forever War, a similar example was given. Calories became a means of payment, but cheap foods like grain or pasta were priced low in “calories” while a natural steak (as opposed to a lab-created steak or a soy steak) was priced very high. We’ve heard calls from the left for something similar, in order to make natural meat very expensive and plant-based substitutes more common.

In Today’s Dollars

I calculated the projected dollar value in today’s money of 25 lbs of various grains in the Revelation 6:6 scenario, keeping in mind the lower cost of barley in the text and assuming a similar lower cost for corn due to lower calorie density. Here’s what I got:

Grain Lbs per Quart Cal per Quart Days of wages for laborer to buy 25 lbs Cost of 25 lbs low ($13 x 8 hrs labor) Cost of 25 lbs high ($15 x 10 hrs labor)
Rice 1.63 2,940 15.3 $1,591 $2,295
Wheat 1.87 2,528 13.4 $1,393 $2,010
Barley 1.5 2,604 5.5 $572 $825
Corn 1.75 656 4.76 $499 $720

For just a quick chart of potential costs, this is pretty shocking. As I write this, I can get a 25lb sack of rice at Sams Club for $10.85. The thought of that same sack costing half a month’s wages is horrifying. On the other hand, if a person was looking for an investment with a high rate of return, a storehouse full of rice (properly packaged for long term) could be incredibly valuable, and usable as currency since it would be of high value, portable, and easily divisible.

But all this is far-fetched, right? A sack of rice costing $1,500 to $2,000 couldn’t be possible, could it? Sadly, I think we’re looking at a scenario where that it might be. There have been an unusually high number of fires at food processing plants in 2022. The FBI is even investigating the trend:

FBI Warns of Targeted Cyber Attacks On Food Plants After Mysterious Rash Of Fires [1].


Why Do All These Food Facilities Keep Catching Fire? [2]

Prices of poultry and eggs are rising after bird flu has made a comeback, and we’ve seen significant fires at processing plants like this one:

Massive Fire Breaks Out At Poultry Farm That Supplies Eggs To Major Supermarkets [3].

Union Pacific Railroad is reducing the amount of fertilizer they are willing to haul, as well as reducing the amount of coal and oil they are willing to transport. Reduced fertilizer supplies and increased costs hit wheat and corn production in the USA like a hammer. At the same time, the major sources of wheat internationally, Ukraine and Russia, are basically off the market. The wheat harvest is failing in the American plains states due to drought. Corn is failing due to drought, and American farmers will be having a tough time getting the crops out of the fields because of the massive rise in fuel prices. The area where I live is affected by drought, and the harvest of hay has been very poor. Usually, we get 3-4 cuttings per year, but after the first cutting the grass is not growing. Of course, fuel affects that too. The price of off-road agricultural diesel where I live has doubled since last year. If the amount of available hay is cut in half and the production cost doubles, grass-fed cattle in my area will probably be slaughtered. In the long run, the price will increase significantly as supplies dwindle and production costs rise.

Throughout this whole year, I’ve been thinking: “…at least we still have rice.” The American South is a major rice production area, especially in the Mississippi River area. Southern Arkansas is home to the headquarters of Riceland, the world’s largest rice exporter, marketer, and miller. With the South experiencing drought, rice crop forecasts look dismal. Due to the lack of other grains, worldwide demand for rice is expected to increase at a time when supplies are most strained. This is shaping up to be a food disaster, with massive price increases in the developed world and severe famines in developing nations. As I watch the national and international news regarding our food supply, it seems to me like the powers that be are waging an intentional war on our ability to eat.

Returning to the horsemen of Revelation 6:6, notice that they were given authority to “kill a quarter of the earth’s population with sword, famine, disease, and the beasts of the earth.” That is a natural progression in times of great trouble. Plagues and famines typically follow violent conflicts between nations as well as non-state actors. Right now, we’re seeing how a local conflict between Russia and Ukraine is upsetting the economy globally. With crop failure adding to this, significant food inflation is likely, significant shortages are likely, and the idea that food costs could inflate to a Revelation 6 level seems possible.

Beyond preparing for feeding ourselves and our families, how can we prepare for a world in which food itself becomes a currency? What can that look like? In recent weeks, I’ve been gathering more grains, especially rice. Rice is a dominant grain where I live, especially beloved by Hispanic and Asian cultures. Cheap and versatile, and based on the chart I created above, I suspect it has a higher rate of return on investment in a scenario of massive inflation. Other grains such as wheat and barley are good in addition to the rice. My mother is a retired physician, and I grew up with the continual saying that: “Beans and rice make a complete protein.” Thanks, Mom. There are lists of things that make complete proteins with one another, and can assist in making the decisions about which grains to acquire for investment. See:

16 Complete Protein Pairings with Barley [4].


13 Nearly Complete Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans [5].

Stocking Up

My family and I have started by acquiring a lot more rice, followed by lentils, wheat, and barley to add to rice. We are using a FoodSaver vacuum machine to pack the grains in 1 quart, 2 quart, 4 quart, and 6 quart amounts. By weight, that comes out to 1.5lbs, 3lbs, 6lbs, and 9lbs respectively. Those amounts might seem a bit odd, but I’m basing those amounts on the Biblical description of the cost vs. a day’s wages. The amounts also neatly correspond to what fits in bags created of FoodSaver plastic and stored in plastic tubs from Walmart. I like to store things as efficiently as possible, so that’s a double win! Having the grains vacuum-sealed should help them last much longer, provided they are kept in a cool, dark place.

Keeping them packed in various quantities makes them versatile for future cooking (just open what you will need immediately), but also keeps them divisible for use as currency. Beyond grain, use your imagination to think of what items could be usable in the future for trade. Spices? Dried egg whites? Buy in bulk and vacuum pack for future use or trade. Rotate your stock to keep supplies fresh. Pray and keep packing in the supplies.