The anticipated global population by 2050 is 9 billion and the obvious first question by many people is “How are we going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”
Try this :
“Place yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. You are hungry but are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”
The answer, obviously, is “no”. Because you would be in that country with a wallet filled with cash and credit cards. So all you would do is go find a restaurant or food stall and buy yourself something to eat.
The difference between you and the hungry is not food availability or the level of its production; it is money. There are no hungry people with money; for them there is no shortage of food. For the poor, there is “I-don’t-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food” hunger problem.
Their poverty and the resulting hunger are not matters of bad luck but often as a result of people buying the property of traditional farmers and displacing them (landgrab), appropriating their water, energy and mineral resources, and even producing cash crops for export while reducing the people growing the food to menial and hungry labourers on their own land.
There is also the virtually unregulated food system that is geared towards making money rather than feeding people. (Look no further than biofuels, for evidence.) A majority of the world is fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, some of whom are themselves among the hungry. The rest of the hungry are underpaid or unemployed workers. But boosting yields does nothing for them. Claiming that increasing the yields of farmers would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars would guarantee that everyone would get one.
Poverty creates hunger yet it also teams up with the food system to create another form of malnourishment: Obesity (and what is called “hidden hunger”, the lack of micronutrients). If you define “hunger” as malnutrition and accept that overweight and obesity are forms of malnutrition as well, then almost half the world is malnourished.
Is there hunger and malnutrition in the United States? Yes, quite a bit. It has the highest percentage of hungry people of any developed nation, a rate close to that of Indonesia. Is there a lack of food? Not at all. The supermarker shelves are over-flowing with food but it is only available for those who can pay its price at the check-out.
The solution is to end poverty. To eliminate poverty we must eliminate capitalism. And how do we help those who have malnutrition? We can help them — and help preserve the Earth’s health — if we recognise that the industrial model of food production for profit is neither inevitable nor desirable. There is plenty of food. Too much of it is going to feed animals, too much is being converted to fuel and too much of it is being wasted. We do not have to increase yield to address any of those issues. We simply require the appropriate economic system to make it possible.
Our slogan should not be “Let’s feed the world”, but “Let us end capitalism”