The Road to Food Security

Anatomically modern humans have been fighting nature and each other for around 300,000 years. Times haven’t changed much for a fair number of descendants. Around 13% of the developing world is starving this very minute, and only ten countries on the planet are not engaged in any conflicts either internally or externally. Thus, the idea of everyone accessing healthy food, clean water, safe shelter, and medical care might seem inconceivable, especially since one influential fraternity of theorists argues that life is supposed to be brutal for a majority due to an inexorable form of economic Darwinism. In this model, a tiny minority gets the best of everything while nearly everyone else mostly suffers and then dies miserably and unceremoniously, leading to a “better-adapted” species.

Yet for the first time in human history, there is no physical reason for hunger to continue on such a massive scale, at least in terms of capability. The world has finally reached the point where it now produces enough food to provide everyone with an adequate caloric intake every day. Unfortunately, making this happen will never be easy given the mechanics of poverty. Skewed income distribution, military and cultural conflicts, natural disasters, inefficient agricultural production practices, unstable markets, food wastage, and other factors spell continued misery for a staggering number of unfortunate people, to include around 50 million Americans who live in food insecure households. Of course, the weakest usually suffer the most. Five million children die every year due specifically to malnutrition, and the number is around twice that for child deaths due to symptoms related to malnutrition.

Solutions do exist. For instance, developing more effective food production systems and creating better access and availability to nutritious diets and health services for those who need them would go far in solving the problem. But this is easier said than done. Hunger is broadly systemic, and too many people in positions of power fail to implement practical remedies due to ignorance, indifference, political cowardice, or sociopathic tendencies. Personalizing the issue makes it more immediate and real. We all suffer in one way or another, which means we should help others suffer less, especially children and the elderly.

Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Helping others reshapes our identities, improves our social skills, and connects us in unexpected ways. Those of us who want to eliminate hunger should push this conversation to the forefront of public discourse, knowing we will, at times, be meeting resistance and sorrow. We need to address the problem by seeking out opportunities to engage in short- and long-term actions that alleviate hunger. Starting with our own communities is always a good idea.