Most of the focus has been housing prices and their effect on the economy, but food prices should be just as a big a story. As the Christian Science Monitor reports today soaring prices of staples like rice and other grains are causing riots and hardship around the world? And some of our government policies are making the problem worse:

Indeed, a government’s attempt to control food markets, either for farmers or for urban dwellers, often creates the kind of distortions that contribute to higher prices. One of the worst examples is a rush by Europe and the US to devote more farmland to growing biofuels – a dubious action to curb greenhouse gases. In 2008, about 18 percent of grain in the US will go to make ethanol and, according to the Earth Policy Institute, such production over the past two years could have fed nearly 250 million people.

And as a great article in Time Magazine (entitled “The Clean Energy Scam”) reports all of this push for biofeuls is actually causing a lot of environmental harm. Policymakers need to start asking themselves if all of this is really worth a few votes in Iowa….