My Sociology class is my favorite despite my discouraging grade.  It has allowed me to really think about things in a new light.

My Teacher emailed us this story to look at out of the New York Times yesterday-it made me really look at Sociological Imagination so I thought I would share….Also, I should note that after this article was published it was the 9th most emailed story in the United States that day.Mark Bittman / Andrew Brusso for Readers Digest

By Mark Bittman

At dinner with a friend the other night, I mentioned that I was giving a talk this week debunking the idea that we need to grow more food on a large scale so we can “feed the nine billion” — the anticipated global population by 2050.

She looked at me, horrified, and said, “But how are you going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”

I suggested she try this exercise: “Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because she — and almost all of you reading this — would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it’s money. There are no hungry people with money; there isn’t a shortage of food, nor is there a distribution problem. There is an I-don’t-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food problem.

And poverty and the resulting hunger aren’t matters of bad luck; they are often a result of people buying the property of traditional farmers and displacing them, appropriating their water, energy and mineral resources, and even producing cash crops for export while reducing the people growing the food to menial and hungry laborers on their own land.

Poverty isn’t the only problem, of course. There is also the virtually unregulated food system that is geared toward making money rather than feeding people. (Look no further than the ethanol mandate or high fructose corn syrup for evidence.)

If poverty creates hunger, it teams up with the food system to create another form of malnourishment: obesity (and what’s called “hidden hunger,” a lack of micronutrients). If you define “hunger” as malnutrition, and you accept that overweight and obesity are forms of malnutrition as well, than almost half the world is malnourished.

The solution to malnourishment isn’t to produce more food. The solution is to eliminate poverty.

Look at the most agriculturally productive country in the world: the United States. Is there hunger here? Yes, quite a bit. We have the highest percentage of hungry people of any developed nation, a rate closer to that of Indonesia than that of Britain.

Is there a lack of food? You laugh at that question. It is, as the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler likes to call it, “a food carnival.” It’s just that there’s a steep ticket price.

A majority of the world is fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, some of whom are themselves among the hungry. The rest of the hungry are underpaid or unemployed workers. But boosting yields does nothing for them.

So we should not be asking, “How will we feed the world?,” but “How can we help end poverty?” Claiming that increasing yield would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars or private jets would guarantee that everyone had one.And how do we help those who have malnutrition from excess eating? We can help them, and help preserve the earth’s health, if we recognize that the industrial model of food production is neither inevitable nor desirable.

About m

blessed in life. Nature lover, fly fishing enthusiast, school girl, mother, grandmother, wife, dog lover.
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  1. charlypriest says:

    Ha, I got the solution to global warming and the over population, ironic that I read this post when I posted today one regarding this subject and my solution to it. Please join me in my endeavour if you read my post, I highly recommend it. It´s illuminating really.

  2. banatxx says: perhaps the billions that have been siphoned off by corrupt/dictators would be a start + the natural resources of cobalt ore, gold, diamonds might feed a few mouths. World banks, the U.N. have done nothing. Confiscating U.S. dollars because ‘we have too much’ is B.S. 100’s of Billions have been poured into Africa….the answer isn’t money…it will be a bloody revolution with maybe an outcome of not another dictator. Glad you are enjoying studies…even the ‘mind forming’ sociology prof. 🙂

    • Maryam says:

      TRUE….another eye opening article. So what’s the solution? That is the QUESTION.
      There are so many different ways to look at poverty, hunger and other major social issues of the world.
      Even from the beginning of Sociology there have been obvious extremes of how to build or obtain a better community in the world.
      The “democratic” or ” conservative” views of these matters have become so extreme, in fact it is a question I have often asked my teacher, probably frustrating to him, is there has to be a balance. Somehow a meld of both these ideas to find a solution to our growing problems.
      “No” he says, there never has been. sad…

    • Maryam says:

      Thanks for your input as always

  3. Poverty—both of concrete, material resources like food and shelter and of intellectual and ephemeral resources (education, spiritual enrichment, the arts, community engagement, etc)—seems to me to be perpetrated and perpetuated more by selfishness than by a shortage of any of those resources. The rich and powerful always want more riches and power, and what they do have makes them able to afford and acquire more and to keep their feet firmly on the backs of the have-nots. Old as history, and rotten as ever. Only those who will speak up and resist entrenched inequities and injustices will have any hope of making change. Thanks for sharing this, Maryam!


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