It’s been the leading story in major newspapers and TV news programs for the past week. More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a “silent tsunami” of rising food prices, according to World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran. A dozen countries have experienced food riots and strikes.
Prices for basic food staples such as rice, wheat, corn, and soybeans have skyrocketed in recent months. They are driven by rising fuel and fertilizer prices, diversion of corn to produce biofuels, drought in key food-producing countries, soil depletion through overgrazing, and growing demand for meat in China and other developing nations. The resulting hunger afflicts nearly one billion people, mostly women and children. It kills an astonishing 24,000 per day. It’s not just a problem for strangers in faraway lands. It affects millions of Americans, and some U.S. stores are already rationing food.
The good news is that even a small shift toward a plant-based diet in the U.S. and other developed countries would free up enough land, water, and fuel to feed everyone. More than 80 percent of U.S. agricultural land grows animal feed. A plant-based diet requires only 16 to 20 percent of the resources of the standard American diet (SAD).
Every one of us can start abating the scourge of world hunger today by reducing our consumption of meat and other animal products and by supporting food distribution agencies. (For more information, see www.thehungersite.org.)
WYATT SMITHWesthampton Beach