I cannot believe that over a billion people worldwide are undernourished in the 21st century! Do we call this progress?
Right to food is a universally accepted fundamental right. Not only is this crisis a moral problem for the rest of the world, I believe it is also a security problem. Extreme poverty and hunger are breeding grounds for the spread of fundamentalism.
October 16, 2009 was the World Food Day sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The theme for the 64th anniversary of the World Food Day this year was Achieving food security in the time of crisis. Here are a few sobering statistics:
- Over 1 billion people worldwide are hungry and undernourished for the first time in history. That is nearly 1 in every 6 people in the world
- About a 100 million more people were added to the roster of the hungry this year compared to last year
- The declining trend in the proportion of undernourished in developing countries was reversed in 2008 and 2009
- Nearly 90% of the world’s hungry live in the Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa
Certainly, the current global economic crisis has made things worse for everyone. But those in the low income countries and developing countries are disproportionately affected. There are a lot of smart people looking at the problem of food insecurity from an economic and resource point of view. However, we as individuals can take this opportunity as a reminder to reflect upon our relationship with food:
- Do we eat to live or live to eat?
- Do we know where our food comes from?
- Do we know if most of what we eat can even be called food?
- Do we know if the food we consume is produced in a sustainable way?
- Do we know about the waste and spoilage from farm to the fork?
Food is the fuel we need for life. Yet the only time we think about it is when our grocery bill goes up and we have to make tough choices. We are fortunate to be living in the land of plenty. Most Americans spend very little on food as a percentage of their total income. Still, we feel the pinch when price of bread and milk goes up by a small amount.
Many others in the world have no such luck. Some even spend their entire daily income on getting a few bites to eat.
We can send them our dollars in aid. But unless we examine our relationship with food in a fundamental way, we cannot hope to solve this problem anytime soon.
Now that is some food for thought.