World Hunger: We’re All Responsible
Article by Zoey FitzGerald Kidwell
850 million people die each year due to starvation, yet there is enough food in the world to feed every single person. I read this statistic a few months ago and couldn’t believe it. If we have more than enough food, why is world hunger still a problem?
People often assume that doing their part means donating food to a local charity or canned food drive. It’s a nice thought: every jar of peanut butter or can of soup helping starving kids around the world! This is what we’ve been taught to believe, and it’s a solution so simple nobody wants to question it. It’s the kind of deception that sounds so right. But alas, we’ve been barking up the wrong tree for years.
We’ve created an entire ecosystem of food charity in an attempt to solve a problem of which we’ve barely scratched the surface. This isn’t to say that people who donate food are morally wrong. They’re doing their best to make a difference, but helping solve the hunger crisis goes far beyond donating food to pantries.
The root of the issue lies in human carelessness. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that people waste far too much food on a daily basis. Roughly one third of all food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes) goes to waste every year.
The real question is: besides people throwing away extra food, where is this 1.3 billion tons of waste coming from? This may sound odd, but much of the global food waste comes from food production, and especially from animal agriculture. Imagine all the grain a cow eats in the 18-24 months up to being slaughtered. Picture that mountainous pile of grain in front of you. Now, imagine a slab of the meat from the cow sliced in front of you. That slab is much smaller, yet the same amount of energy, if not more, went into producing that food.
Raising animals for slaughter wastes food that could be used to save those in need. In 2011, 883 million tons of corn, and 260 million tons of soybeans were grown globally. However, 40-50% of that corn, and 80% of those soybeans were fed to farmed animals. In 2013, scientists from the Institute on the Environment and the University of Minnesota conducted a study comparing animal agriculture (including meat, dairy, and egg production) to the dilemma of world hunger.
They reached the conclusion that if all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, enough to feed 4 billion additional people. That surplus alone would be enough to feed over half the humans on earth, let alone the 925 million who face hunger every day.
World hunger is a complex issue. I’m aware, it doesn’t just boil down to agriculture. There are many contributing factors, but lessening one’s consumption of animal products is one of the easiest ways for the average citizen to do their part.
I’m not asking you to abandon your beloved hamburgers or your Sunday morning bacon. All I’m asking is that you be more conscious. Try eating one meat free meal a day, or even eating one meat free meal a week.
In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates states, “If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?” Food production is killing both animals and humans alike; if the pattern continues, more people will unnecessarily starve every day.