Today we (those in America and the industrialized nations) live in a world that believes that the modern industrialized agricultural system is capable of feeding the world. As far as I can see this assumption has not been challenged. Many believe that the amount of food currently produced is capable of feeding the world in terms of calories. The reason that there are starving and undernourished individuals in this world is simply because of distribution problems. Distribution problems certainly exist because of the greed of “wealthy” nations or the political atmosphere or technological ability of the nation that is receiving the help. The myth that I wish to discuss today goes beyond this notion.
The thinkers in this arena prefer to end their critical thinking processes at this point. The belief that there is enough food produced and the only problem with feeding the world is distribution and the over consumption of the industrialized nations. This is a very tidy belief that refuses the basic question. Is feeding the world sustainable? Attempting to feed the world while failing is a moral victory for the self without a question as to the consequences of their behavior. It is superficial.
Based upon sustainability we must also ask “Should we feed the world?” I would argue that you are simply unable to sustainably feed the world. In order to feed the world’s population sustainably you must be able to do that over an extended period, for all time by definition. The world is already running out of arable farmland and the ranges are nearing capacity. Meat eaters are increasing in number as underdeveloped nations are developing. The simple fact in all of this is this. Once you feed a starving population, that population’s ability to reproduce increases, thus leading to population growth. When we feed the population the population increases, which then requires a greater supply of food in an ever-increasing cycle that leads to the total destruction of all resources. The destruction of our resources, all in an attempt to feel better about ourselves by feeding individuals on the other side of the world through cereal grains and cheap calories.
Beyond the fact that you are unable to feed the world through caloric intake alone, we are currently unable to provide healthy food to all individuals. Therefore, the goal should be that of providing healthy, high quality food to as many individuals as possible. Health foods and foods that delay senescence are significantly different.
I am aware that it sounds extremely harsh but starvation is the greatest limiting factor on population that the Earth has been capable of producing. It is what keeps us in balance. The second greatest limiting factor seems to be undernourishment. Through undernourishment, this nation has seen an increase in infertility leading to a complete lack of menstrual processes in young individuals. The rate of undernourishment has increased dramatically as witnessed by the increase in obesity. Obesity caused by undernourishment seems contraindicated but it is not. The increase of chronic disease due to undernourishment and cheap calorie diets, which is a direct result of our attempt to produce lots of food as cheaply as possible has been a major source of pain for many individuals in the developed world. Premature death due to chronic disease and cancer has wrecked havoc on this nation. The rates of chronic disease affecting younger populations continue to increase dramatically as suggested by Pottenger’s Cats. Therefore, the side effect of cheap calories and the attempt to feed the world has actually increased pain and suffering dramatically throughout the world.
The establishment tells us that genetics cause disease. However, our environment’s (food, pollution, chemicals, poisons) influence on genetics causes disease. The toxins that are affecting us are a result of our political and industrialized habits. The last 100 years have changed our environment dramatically and we are currently paying the price for it. You do not have to be sick.
Sustainability and feeding the world are two opposite goals that are incapable of coexisting. Our compassion has allowed ourselves to become misguided into believing that we are capable of more than we are. Simply put, we should use only truly sustainable practices fed by the energy of the sun. There are a great number of technologies that are beyond my understanding. I do not know the limits of the suns energy for the production and feeding of individuals as well as maintaining our current lifestyle.
An honest look into sustainable technologies is necessary. This would require government and industry to decrease the monopoly on energy. It would also require conventional energy producers to allow alternative energies to surface. There is significant evidence that conventional energy producers purchase alternative energy ideas and then bury them. The use of unsustainable practices should end in order to decrease the amount of pain and suffering in this world. Pain and suffering will continue unless something changes. Better now, with an honest effort of transition towards sustainability instead of down the line with a catastrophic end to our current model and massive losses due to lack of distribution. Individuals and small communities must once again take charge of the collection of food for themselves.
Update: I wrote this before I knew about Malthus. Who essentially said that we were going to run out of food because populations grow exponentially and food grows mathematically. Turns out that food grew at a very fast rate since he died which allowed populations to continue to grow. Also there has been a demographic transition which experts believe will leave the world at a population of 9.5 billion by 2050. With that being said I still believe that the food that is being produced is not actual food, albeit food like substances that are harmful to our bodies and environment.