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List of food riots

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Title: List of food riots  
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Subject: Flour Riot of 1837, 1977 Egyptian bread riots, Food riot, List of uprisings led by women, Riot
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List of food riots

An illustration of the Women's March on Versailles, 5 October 1789

Food riots may occur when there is a shortage and/or unequal distribution of food. Causes can be food price rises, harvest failures, incompetent food storage, transport problems, food speculation, hoarding, poisoning of food, or attacks by pests. During the period 2007-2008, a rise in global food prices led to riots in various countries. A similar crisis recurred in 2010-2011.

Food riots

17th century

  • Salt riot – also known as the Moscow Uprising of 1648, started because of the government's replacement of different taxes with a universal salt tax for the purpose of replenishing the state treasury after the Time of Troubles. This drove up the price of salt, leading to violent riots in the streets of Moscow.

18th century

  • Boston Bread Riot – the last of a series of three riots by the poor of Boston, Massachusetts, between 1710 and 1713, in response to food shortages and high bread prices. The riot ended with minimal casualties.
  • Flour War – occurred in 1775, this was an uprising caused by the excessive price of bread in France before the French Revolution. Early in the season for wheat harvesting and flour production, the government enacted fewer price controls than later in the year, leaving prices to the free market. This caused the price of flour to climb, and the working classes could not buy bread.
  • Women's March on Versailles – one of the earliest and most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France.
  • List of uprisings led by womenE.P. Thompson's classic article "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the 18th Century" emphasized women's role in many food riots. He argued that the rioters insisted on the idea of a moral community that was obliged to feed them and their families.

19th century

An illustration of the Bread riots in Richmond, Virginia
  • Southern bread riots – events of civil unrest in the Confederacy, perpetrated mostly by women in March and April 1863. During these riots, which occurred in cities throughout the South, women and men violently invaded and looted various shops and stores.

20th century

  • Rice riots of 1918 – a series of popular disturbances that erupted throughout Japan from July to September 1918, which brought about the collapse of the Terauchi Masatake administration. A precipitous rise in the price of rice caused extreme economic hardship, and rural protests spread to the towns and cities.
  • Novocherkassk massacre – refers to events tied to the labor strike of a locomotive building plant in Novocherkassk, a city in the Soviet Union, (now Russia). The events eventually culminated in riots of June 1-2, 1962 when reportedly 26 protesters were killed by the Soviet Army troops, and 87 were wounded. The riots were a direct result of shortages of food and provisions, as well as the poor working conditions in the factory.
  • 1977 Egyptian bread riots – affected most major cities in Egypt from January 18–19, 1977. The riots were a spontaneous uprising by hundreds of thousands of lower-class people protesting World Bank and International Monetary Fund-mandated termination of state subsidies on basic foodstuffs. As many as 79 people were killed and over 550 injured in the protests,[4] which were only ended with the deployment of the army and the re-institution of the subsidies.

21st century

See also


  1. ^ SafariX Textbooks Online – SafariX is now CourseSmart
  2. ^ (Spanish) Primeros movimientos sociales chileno (1890-1920). Memoria Chilena.
  3. ^ Benjamin S. 1997. Meat and Strength: The Moral Economy of a Chilean Food Riot. Cultural Anthropology, 12, pp. 234-268.
  4. ^
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