The phrase 'nine meals from anarchy' sounds more like the title of a bad Hollywood movie than any genuine threat.
But that was the expression coined by Lord Cameron of Dillington, a farmer who was the first head of the Countryside Agency - the quango set up by Tony Blair in the days when he pretended to care about the countryside - to describe just how perilous Britain's food supply actually is.
Long before many others, Cameron saw the potential of a real food crisis striking not just the poor of the Third World, but us, here in Britain, in the 21st Century.
The scenario goes like this. Imagine a sudden shutdown of oil supplies; a sudden collapse in the petrol that streams steadily through the pumps and so into the engines of the lorries which deliver our food around the country, stocking up the supermarket shelves as soon as any item runs out.
If the trucks stopped moving, we'd start to worry and we'd head out to the shops, cking up our larders. By the end of Day One, if there was still no petrol, the shelves would be looking pretty thin. Imagine, then, Day Two: your fourth, fifth and sixth meal. We'd be in a panic. Day three: still no petrol.
What then? With hunger pangs kicking in, and no notion of how long it might take for the supermarkets to restock, how long before those who hadn't stocked up began stealing from their neighbours? Or looting what they could get their hands on?
There might be 11 million gardeners in Britain, but your delicious summer peas won't go far when your kids are hungry and the baked beans have run out.
It was Lord Cameron's estimation that it would take just nine meals - three full days without food on supermarket shelves - before law and order started to break down, and British streets descended into chaos.
A far-fetched warning for a First World nation like Britain? Hardly. Because that's exactly what happened in the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. People looted in order to feed themselves and their families.
If a similar tragedy was to befall Britain, we are fooling ourselves if we imagine we would not witness similar scenes of crime and disorder.
Well, today Britain is facing a very real crisis. Granted, it is not the threat of a sudden, terrifying phenomenon such as the hurricane that struck New Orleans. But in its capacity to cause widespread hardship and deprivation nationwide, it is every bit as daunting.
Oil prices are spiralling - $120 a barrel this week, up 23 per cent since the start of the year - and the cost is being felt not only by drivers but by each and every one of us who has seen our food bills soaring.
This week, the British Retail Consortium revealed that food price inflation had risen to 6 per cent - the highest figure since comparable records began - and up from 4.7 per cent in April and 4.1 per cent in March.
At its most basic, the reasons for this food inflation are twofold: increasing demand (particularly in the emerging economies of India and China) and spiralling production costs.
Conventional wisdom had it that in an age of mechanisation, the cost of producing the food that we eat would decrease as technology found new ways of improving yields and minimising labour costs. But there was a problem that hadn't been factored in. Production methods are now such that 95 per cent of all the food we eat in the world today is oil-dependent.