Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Foodless Days in 2012

Lester Brown has published two books, available free online, that detail the ongoing crisis in world food supplies. His latest book, Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Security, describes the current state of people in the world near starvation:

"In early 2012, Adam Nossiter wrote in the New York Times about the effect of high food prices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country where hunger is common. Interviewing individual families in Kinshasa, he noted that three years ago everyone ate at least one meal a day. But today even families with both parents working often cannot afford to eat every day. It is now a given in many households that some days will be foodless, days when they will not eat at all. Selecting the days when they will not eat is a weekly routine.

The international charity Save the Children commissioned detailed surveys in five countries—India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Peru, and Bangladesh—to see how people were dealing with rising food prices. Among other things, they learned that 24 percent of families in India now have foodless days. For Nigeria, the comparable figure is 27 percent. For Peru it is 14 percent. Family size plays an important role in hunger. Almost one third of large families in all countries surveyed have foodless days." 

As always, war, foreign and capitalist exploitation, political regimes, gendercide, racism and other social and political factors adversely and unjustly impact the distribution of food. But this time it's different. In addition to all these factors, there simply isn't enough grain to feed everyone. Catastrophic climate change in the form of floods droughts and heat waves, soil erosion, water shortages, and the demand for grain-based ethanol are having severe impacts on the total global supply of grain. World grain supplies are at their lowest in since the mid-20th century.

Data from Lester Brown's earlier book, World on the Edge, is presented in a pdf slideshow that encapsulates these issues.

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