The rice is right: How a staple becomes a luxury

If you've kept a close eye on the news over the past couple of months, you might have noticed a disturbing trend. Around the world, climatologists and other analysts have been making dire predictions about a dawning rice shortage.

More recently, the shortage seems to have arrived, with prices rising steeply in Kenya, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and throughout the rest of the World. In fact, this problem has even found its way into neighborhood supermarkets in the U.S., where the price of a bag of rice has almost doubled over the past year. One analyst has noted that the price of rice is poised to double again over the next few months. This price explosion has caused some consumers to panic, leading to a run on rice stocks at some stores. Sam's Club and Costco, for example, have recently announced that customers can only buy four 20-pound bags of rice at a time.

Admittedly, this isn't really a major issue for most people in the United States. To begin with, the domestic rice crop is strong, which means that there's plenty of rice out there for Americans. Consumers will have to pay more, which means that some rice lovers might have to cut back or switch to another starch, like potatoes. Fans of specialty rices, like basmati and jasmine, may well find themselves out of luck, as these strains seem to be particularly problematic. However, having to eat long-grain and medium-grain, domestically-produced rice is not that much of a hardship for most people.