The US government has long maintained a strategic oil reserve. It's a large quantity of oil that can be made available to offset supply disruptions in the event of emergencies.
China, too, has a strategic commodity reserve only the Chinese aren't hording oil but pigs. And right now the Chinese government has opted to dip into the strategic porker reserves to stave off potentially destabilizing food price increases.
What's behind China's recent spate of food price instability? Asia Times reports that the culprit is ethanol:
"Current hikes in both grain and pork prices are blamed on the same culprit - the ethanol industry, whose explosive growth has been gobbling up a growing share of China's corn (maize) harvest traditionally preserved for food and animal feed.
"Having promoted the production of the environmentally friendly gasoline additive for years, Chinese economic planners now fear the sector has grown too much and too quickly, presenting them with an uncomfortable dilemma of choosing between the country's green agenda and its national food security.
"Pig feed, which is made mostly of corn, simply followed increases in corn prices. Prices of the commodity have risen by up to 30% since the latter half of last year, according to the ministry.
"What is more, producers have ignored a government limit on converting about 3 million tonnes of corn into ethanol a year and used up to 16 million tonnes of the crop in 2006, the ministry said in April. China has been encouraging the production of biofuel such as ethanol and bio-diesel from renewable resources to satisfy the country's voracious appetite for energy and reduce its growing dependence on imported petroleum. "