Business, Finance & Economics

Stuffed and starved

RP points to some statistics to illustrate the problem: the price of wheat has gone up over 130% in the past year, the price of rice went up by 30% in a day a couple of months ago. So this is affecting dozens of countries. (Why?) There were bad wheat harvests last year, biofuels switching farmers away from growing wheat and to corn, meat consumption rising in Asia, the price of oil is rising. So it's a constellation of factors. (Your book points out that while more and more people are going hungry, we also have a rising world population of obese people, and you say these are symptoms of the same problem. How could that be?) Well if you imagine an hour glass and at the top are the millions of farmers that produce the food and at the bottom are about 6 billion others that consume the food, but in the middle are the main players that control the food trade. they're in position to pay the producers little, but also make the rest of us buy more food, foods rich in fat and sugar. So there's incentive for us to eat foods that are worse for us. (Is there enough food in the world to feed the global population?) There is enough food to feed the world if we distribute it properly. There's not enough food for everyone to eat as much meat as Americans do, but that's fine because Americans are eating bad diets. (So what is the way out of this crisis?) USAID provides food to the developing world with US surpluses, but the best way to give ailing international farmers aid is to buy their crop and redistribute it within that economy. (You end the book by saying if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.) Well food systems today make people feel complicit in a system that is unsustainable and the way to get out is not to feel guilty but to be angry and become an activist.

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