Most of us have always been aware of people going hungry in the developing countries of the world. Nations such as Yemen, Senegal and other parts of African come to mind when we think of world hunger and starving people. We have probably given money, time or other personal resources in an effort to combat world hunger. Hunger however is not going away. In fact it is an ever growing problem for more and more people in the world and is starting to be felt with increasing frequency in developed countries world wide.
And while there may be adequate food in many countries what the average consumer spends as a portion of their income on food has increased dramatically with no end in sight. This has forced many consumers to chose between such basic necessities as health care and eating. Only careful planning by governments or individuals or some natural or man made disaster such as global warming that reduces the worlds population will alleviate this situation for future generations. With their past record of ignoring problems until it is too late we should not bet on the governments of the world to do the right thing. Each of us as individuals must work together to find a solution for ending world hunger.
In order to solve a problem a understanding of the facts that caused the problem must first be understood. With that in mind what are some of the factors that have brought us to this point in time where the worlds supply of food has been reduced to its lowest levels in the last 35 years? As with most problems more than one ingredient is at work in creating this surge of world hunger around the globe. A combination of bad weather, soaring fuel prices, dwindling food reserves and a growing world population have all come together to form the perfect storm. One factor responsible for the worlds dwindling supply of food is simply that there are more people to feed. An additional two billion people are expected to call this planet home by the year 2040. By the year 2050 the worlds population will require twice as much food as it currently does.
Add into the mix urban sprawl which results in more land being taken out of agriculture production and it is not hard to see why the food supply is slowly being stretched to the limit. Global warming is also playing a role resulting in erratic weather patterns around the world. Countries such as Australia are facing the worst drought they have experienced in the last 100 years. Bangladesh on the other hand is experiencing to much rain and the resultant flooding of crops. What ever your opinion on global warming, be it a man mad or natural phenomena something is happening to our planet and the effects of global warming can no longer be ignored. Another factor contributing to world hunger is the way in which we are using the food we do produce. Surprisingly in an effort to “go green” much of the available land available to grow food is being used in a very inefficient manner. Corn used to produce ethanol or to feed livestock for our meat consumption requires exorbitant amounts of energy and results in higher food prices. Grains that could be produced in record amounts feeding the world are now being used to produce fuel for energy. An example would be the United States maize crop. Over twenty percent of the U.S. crop is used to produce ethanol. With the United States producing over half the worlds maize production one realizes that this is not only un stainable but is a unwise policy.The energy required to produce one gallon of ethanol far outweighs any percieved benefits. So with a clear understanding of the problem each of us must ask ourselves what role do we play in solving the problem of world hunger?
All is not hopeless. There are steps each of us can take to make a difference. Perhaps learning something about the food we eat might be a good starting point. The average person is so far removed from food production that he or she is unaware of the amount of time and resources that go into producing the food that they so readily take for granted. What does it take to grow the food , harvest it and get it safely to our local store? These are things we might do well to educate ourselves about . Become involved in the fight to prevent urban sprawl. More and more individuals are beginning to realize that planting another Walmart on the edge of town might not be the best use of that valuable resource we call land. Educate yourself on the production of ethanol.
What are the costs involved in the production of a gallon of this new liquid gold? The answers you discover might surprise you. Should we really be taking food from people in order to drive our SUV’s? Ethanol is probably not the answer to our long term energy needs. Here is a noble thought. Try growing some of your own food. Do you believe that a head of lettuce shipped to you from five hundred miles away is healthier for you and a better use of resources than one you grow yourself? If growing your own food is impractical consider buying food locally from a farmers market. You will end up with fresher, healthier, better tasting food and the environment will thank you in the process.
Take heart. Mother Nature has given us all we need to feed ourselves and those sharing this planet with us. A little more common sense and a little less greed concerning the earth and its resources will go along way in solving the problem of world hunger. Think about one small thing you can do to improve the situation and go do it. If six billion people take that attitude there is nothing we cannot accomplish. As for me I’m off to do my part in combating world hunger by tending to my garden.