Thousands of people are not starving to death in Michigan. This shocking development comes despite one of the worst harvests in memory.

With little produce being gathered from local orchards and fields, some feared the worst. But despite the drought, grocery stores had full shelves and reasonable prices.

The miracle of trade will save millions from starvation this winter, as residents of the drought-stricken eastern U.S. line up at supermarket checkouts to bag up life-saving foodstuffs imported with alacrity from origins as far-flung as Chile and Washington State.

Trade in food is vital to modern life even in the best of times, but the double disaster for agriculture in the Northeast (a hard frost and then a drought) highlights just how resilient global food distribution is and how firm a foundation free trade is for human well-being.

Although the meager harvest is a great financial hardship to many involved, its cost is measured in dollars, not lives.

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