Too much or too little? Taking Food To Extremes

 The 16th of October is World Food Day. 

Food is an integral part of our culture. We use food as an ingredient in our social activities, to celebrate events, to show our care in times of need. We cook together, eat together, talk about food together. We have television channels dedicated to food, cookery competitions on prime time television. Foods bring memories flooding to the surface, even just the smell of baking can evoke the most vivid childhood memories.

Food has become so prevalent in our society that people are getting sick from having too much. Obesity-related illnesses are killing more people than ever before. On those very same channels we find endless cookery shows also run extreme weight-loss show like The Biggest Loser. Our love of food has reached life-threatening levels for some people.

Yet within our little planet of 7 billion people, the threat to life comes not from too much, but too little. There are people for whom food is scarce, where there is just not enough to go around. Too many people with too little food. Currently in our world, famine grips large areas, and food is used as a weapon of war. People are desperately hungry.

According the annual report of the International Federation of the Red Cross, there are more obese people in the world than people suffering from malnutrition.  The organization reports that last year there were 1.5 billion obese people compared to 925 million undernourished people – a frightening indicator of the ever increasing gap between the poor and rich.

The balance has been dramatically lost. It is clear we live in a world where there is enough food for everyone. As Josette Sheeran speaks about within this talk: “One of the most fundamental acts of civilization is to ensure people can get enough food.”

According to recent statistics, in the past 3 years there was enough food on Earth for everyone to have 2,700 kilocalories. Despite talk of  ‘Global Food Shortages’, there is enough food for everyone. So why is it that we have a billion people who can’t find food?

We are living in times where awareness of nutritional needs and the dangers of missing adequate nutrition are increasing. Children who eat large quantities of processed foods, fast food, and generally unhealthy, fat-filled diets are at almost equal levels of danger as children who are without access to any form of food. With the global food balance being so completely out of sync, it is clear that the time for action is now. We have a responsibility to our children and future generations to address the balance and ensure that every person in the world can wake up and know where their next meal is coming from.

I would like you to join with all of humanity to draw a line in the sand and say, “No more. No more are we going to accept this.” And we want to tell our grandchildren that there was a terrible time in history where up to a third of the children had brains and bodies that were stunted, but that exists no more.

– Josette Sheeran

This blog runs as a contribution to Blog Action Day 2011

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