Food & Fitness

Food in Politics

The part about my high school Global Politics class that has stuck with me the most were discussions we had on population and hunger. We talked about the issues of poverty and development and then focused for a brief period on the distribution of food.

Hunger is an ongoing problem across the globe... but if the world produces enough food to provide everyone with 2,700+ calories each day, then what's REALLY the root problem of food security? Find out!

According to the United Nations—this is a stat that I have been unable to find on my own but it is what my professor gave us (and although professors can be dead wrong sometimes, this DOES sound about right, when you think about it)—the world’s production of food can provide every single person on the planet with 3,600 calories / day.

{Update: I’ve since found other statistics from various places: 2,640 calories / day ( and more than 2,700 calories/day (Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). It’s not as high as 3,600, but still certainly an adequate amount!}

How many calories do you eat every day? I eat roughly 1,500. Days when I exceed 2,000 are rare—those are Thanksgiving dinner type of days. Granted, I’m a pretty little person and don’t need to eat all that much to function properly.

But if the average amount that people need is 2,000 calories per day (which is a pretty good guess, considering that all food labels are designed with that figure in mind), and we have enough to give people 2,700—3,600 calories each day, then why is it that every day there are millions of people starving and dying from hunger?

The issue of global hunger is not one of how much food there is in the world, but how we distribute it worldwide. It’s a sorry world we live in when the economy and money is more important than peoples’ lives; here in the West, we have far too much food, and yet it would be “too costly” to give all of the excess food to less developed countries.

One of the other students in my class announced that he worked for Safeway for a while, and that at the end of one day, they threw out $800 worth of produce. Were the fruits and veggies all rotten? No. But they were unlikely to be sold as well as the super fresh stuff because it was slightly older and maybe had a couple of tiny bruises and that sort of thing.

Which brings me to the question of, why is it that we don’t mind stuffing our faces with all manner of junk which causes a huge amount of health problems, yet we automatically shy away from a teensy bruise on our apple? If that bruise is really so frightening and inedible, it can be pared off. The rest of the fruit is still good. Do you chop off an arm because you get a slight cut on it? Even bananas that go brown can be used to make banana bread (one of the tastiest types of bread, and the mushier the bananas are, the better).

Food is something which everyone should have access to, and political economic reasons should not be getting in the way of the basic human right to eat and be satisfied and survive.

Clearly there is something wrong about the world structure when there is more than enough food to go around and yet still people everywhere—many of them children—are starving. Yet somehow we can afford to have a restaurant at the corner of every street (there are three stores full of food within a 30-second walking distance from where I stand right now).

Why don’t politicians use common sense and concern themselves with the basic needs of human beings than scheme up ways to make more money and build bigger weapons? Shouldn’t that be the basic function of politicians and other important global actors? Discuss!

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  1. the Bag Lady

    Politicians. Bah, humbug.
    Perhaps someday things will turn around.
    Westerners are just plain spoiled!
    And the grocery stores that throw the food away? Why don’t they give it to the Food Bank or something? Sheesh!

  2. Scale Junkie

    What a great post!! I think its crazy how much we waste in our society. I’ve tried to keep my personal waste to a minimum but for stores to throw away so much produce…why not give it to the employees or to the food bank? Its just another sign of how crazy our world is. Thank you for this post!

  3. Angie

    This is a great post and so insane! I just don’t understand this!

    My mom says they do the same thing with clothes that don’t sell at retail stores…they throw them away instead of giving them to shelters or someone in need. I find that just ridiculous!!

  4. WeightingGame

    I, too, get really upset when I hear about cafes and restaurants throwing away all of their breads and produce at the end of the day – I have asked why can’t they give it to homeless people and the answers seems to always be “liability.” As in, what if a homeless person gets sick from eating a day-old bagel and sues the store. Bah! But I know som big places invite organizations that care for the homeless to come at the end of the day and pick up. I think Panera is one. I really admire that…

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