Catastrophic flooding and crop losses in Thailand, the world's leading rice exporter, are raising concerns that another food crisis may be in the offing.

Also disquieting is the possibility that the world may have already entered a new era where persistently high food prices are the "New Normal." At a time when policymakers are grappling with a host of thorny economic issues, the possibility may be unwelcome, but must not be ignored.

Although volatility in commodity markets is nothing new, there are worrying signs that food price fluctuations are now taking place within a much higher bandwith than ever before. Even when prices dip, they remain high by historic standards, and when prices rise, it's enough to put a serious dent in families' budgets.