Plenty of food, but millions are starving

Waste: In poor countries, vegetables often rot on their way to local markets. © Wikicommons

Can we feed everyone? World Food Day is this week. We already make enough for 10 billion people — and, yet, one in nine humans does not have enough food. How did that happen?

What’s happening

Thirty years from now, there will be 9.7 billion people on Earth. Almost three billion of them will not have enough food.

The answer might seem simple: grow more. But that won’t be enough by itself.

Find out more

We already produce enough food for 10 billion people — enough for everyone alive today, and two billion yet unborn. Yet across the world, more than one in nine people are going hungry.

Why is that? Well, roughly 30 to 40% of all food is wasted, often because poorer countries do not have the equipment to refrigerate food. By the time it arrives at local markets, most of it is spoiled or lost.

That’s not all. Only 55% of the crops we grow are used to feed people. The rest is grown to feed cattle, sheep and chickens, which are eaten by those in richer countries. This means that we are not growing enough food for humans.

It is even more complicated because of the climate crisis. Farming creates about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, which are heating up the planet.

Can we feed everyone without destroying the planet?

Some say…

No. There are huge obstacles facing us: we must get everyone — India and China, as well as the West — to stop eating meat. We must also build a huge “cold train” in poorer countries that could transport food without it rotting. This would need lots of money, and it might create more emissions. We cannot have it both ways.

Others think…

Yes. We are already using technology to make more environmentally-friendly food. Countries across Africa are improving their infrastructure with the help of Chinese money, which will lead to less food waste. It will take much time and money to create new, efficient ‘green farming’, but we can do it

You Decide

  1. Is it wrong to eat meat?

Activities

  1. For World Food Day, write a short poem in praise of your favourite food.

Some People Say...

“A hungry man is not a free man.”

Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965), US politician

What do you think?

Word Watch

Billion
1,000,000,000
Produce
Make.
Refrigerate
Keep cold.
Spoiled
Ruined; gone off.
Complicated
Not easy to understand.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Like carbon dioxide, heating up the air when released.
Infrastructure
The buildings, roads, trains and other features that allow a society to work well.
Efficient
Not wasteful.

Subjects

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