In a modern society where the treasures of old have fallen by the wayside and riches are counted in electronic currencies and perceived, rather than real, two commodities are making a comeback and it’s time they get the attention they deserve: food and water. Just ask the cast of the TV Series Lost or Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away: they would have chosen clean water and fresh food over dollar bills and gold bars any day of the week.
Within the writhing mass of steel, concrete, and glass that comprise our cities, and their choked and congested roadways, restaurants, and shopping malls, water and food have been forgotten as commodities. In most cities, you turn on the tap and there is an endless supply of clean water for bathing, drinking, and washing. Open the fridge or go down to the local supermarket and there is aisle upon aisle of fresh and processed food – enough to feed several armies.
And yet, where our minds are most frequently focused is on money: on hard cash and the number of zeros on our bank statements. This has distracted us immensely from life’s most important commodities – fresh food and clean water. Not any longer! In the war-torn, hurricane-ravaged, and harsh environmental zones on Earth, water and food are the new gold.
A reminder of value
The distribution of the human population on Earth is, in part, a powerful testament to the intrinsic value of food and water. Our original settlements, cities, and then empires were built in close proximity to water and food sources. This is why few desert areas on Earth – whether they are icy wastelands or sweltering sand heaps – have vast cities built upon them. With access to clean, plentiful water and food, a civilization can then turn its attention to more sophisticated activities, such as building machinery, innovating technologies, and scientific inquiry.
Armed with improved technology, we are able to venture further, into harsher climates that might not offer so much food and water but that offer some other precious commodity – perhaps iron, stone, or gold – and settle there. Trade took care of the rest.
But in areas where access to clean and plentiful water and food is severely limited, and colonialism hasn’t interfered, human populations have largely remained primitive in nature; dedicating their lives to foraging, hunting, and surviving, rather than becoming educated and expanding and building. This is not at all to say that one form of civilization is better than the other, but merely an observation that civilizations with easy access to plentiful water and food have the luxury of channeling their energies into the proliferation of the arts, sciences, and technologies.
Why this is changing
Economic downturns, market crashes, bubble bursts, and the dizzying roller-coaster ride of cryptocurrency values tell us that while 21st Century wealth can afford you luxury, it cannot guarantee your survival. This is the basic plot of every post-apocalyptic movie, TV series, and book that’s been released, ever. When the civilized world comes crashing down, the money in your wallet holds greater value as kindling than anything else.
What kind of wealth is that?
And, let’s not forget the divine fact that a power outage brings ALL of the above – the Internet, the cryptocurrency, the banks, the stock market, and more – to a crashing halt. At the end of the day, the human race is just trying to survive and when you strip all of the layers of excess, luxury, and lifestyle away, you’re left with two absolutely essential commodities with which you can survive, feed a community, build an economy, and raise an empire from the ground up.
Water and food: the new gold. Or more accurately, the ORIGINAL gold.