Volume 10 Issue 2
World Security is Threatened by Hunger Caused
Over the past two months, hungry people in Egypt, where 40 percent of the population lives on just $2 a day, have joined forces by networking on their cell phones to have their leader, Hosni Mubarak, removed from power. Libya’s people have done the same, causing Muammar Gaddafi to lose control. However, political reform—in these cases, replacing a dictator with democracy—was not their primary reason for revolt. Their goal was to feed themselves and their starving families.
Millions of people living in the Middle East, in what was formally known as “the breadbasket of the world,” do not have enough to eat. According to a report in 2009 from UNICEF, 30 percent of children in half a dozen countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa have stunted growth from malnutrition. The United Nations announced last month that world prices have reached record levels for basic foods. Now, nearly a billion people worldwide live at the edge of starvation as the prices of their staples—rice, corn, and wheat—rise beyond their meager incomes of around a dollar a day. Who would argue against their fellow humans having the right to have enough food?
The Starch Solution: The Simple Win-Win Option
Revolution is at our fingertips—and now is the time to act. Half of the world is underfed and half is overfed. One sensible solution is for those who “have” to give to those who “have not.” In practical terms this means Westerners living on and dying from their meat- and dairy-centered diets will simply switch to a starch-based meal plan so that there is sufficient rice, corn, wheat, and potatoes to feed the world’s population. This is a win-win situation that I call “the Starch Solution.” With the new food supply made available by this practical change, the “haves” will rid themselves of obesity, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, and colon cancer (to name just a few epidemic problems caused by gluttony), and the people from the Middle East and Africa will be freed from the pains of daily starvation that are driving their current fights against tyrany.
With Change, the Future is Bright
Up until recently, worldwide, an estimated two billion people lived primarily on an animal-based diet, while an estimated four billion lived primarily on a plant-based diet. These figures are rapidly changing. The global population is expected to increase to around nine billion people by mid-century, rising at a rate of six million people per month. With the current trends in prosperity, incomes are also rising in developing and middle-income countries, most notably China, India, Brazil, and Argentina. As a result, more people are eating more agriculturally and environmentally expensive meat and dairy products and refined foods.
There are three ways that we can respond to what appears to many scientists and political leaders to be certain planetary destruction from overpopulation.
1) Population control
The estimate has been made that the Earth can support about one to two billion people with the American standard of eating, good health, prosperity, personal dignity, and freedom. This estimate further suggests that an optimal US population is 100 to 200 million (the current US population is over 310 million). With the population of the Earth currently approaching seven billion, if every human being were to attain the living standards currently enjoyed by Americans, more specifically the Standard American Diet, then three to four planet Earths would be required to feed and support them all.
By itself, elective population control would be too slow to succeed in saving planet Earth as we enjoy it today. Wars, starvation, and disease could force a more rapid reduction in the number of people living, but no rational person would consider these horrific events realistic options.
Great strides in food production have been made during the past half-century; however, this trend in productivity is likely to worsen, not improve. Many experts predict that the world is heading into an unprecedented food crisis that is fueled by climate change. Fires in Russia have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of grain; Canada's wheat crop has been decimated by heavy rain; drought in Argentina has devastated the soybean crop; and recent floods in Australia have destroyed much of the country's wheat crop. Adding to these food shortages, in the US, one-third of the corn grown is now being diverted for use as ethanol fuel. Although efforts to squeeze more calories out of our agricultural lands must be made, the current trend of more people eating more animal-based foods will never be balanced by more productivity. The problems of food shortages must be addressed at a more basic level.
3) Switching to a starch-based diet
World reform after adopting “starch-eating” globally would be seen overnight. The grains, legumes, and tubers previously fed to livestock would be immediately available for human consumption. Various calculations prove extraordinary increases in food supply can be expected. Savings in fossil fuels, which translate directly into the environment, would also be immediate. In November of 2006 the World Health Organization of the United Nations published a report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” incriminating the animal-food industries as a leading source of climate change and pollution.
Protest with Your Dinner Plate—Every Vote Counts
The current path of more people eating more animals is unsustainable. So we really have no choice; we either change or perish. And we will change. The question is will we do it now by choice, or later when circumstances force a population reduction and global starvation?
The simplest, most immediate, and effective solution to balancing the world’s food supply is for Westerners to give up the foods that are making themselves fat and sick. Through social networking tools—Twitter and Facebook—unarmed people in the Middle East, receiving messages via their cell phones, have deposed tyrants in mere days. The same methods used to teach the importance of a starch-based diet could as easily save the world. At the very least this revolution in thinking may allow us additional time to deal with equally crucial problems of population control, pollution, climate change, and needs for renewable energy.
Now that we know better, every time we hear news about people struggling and the world dying, we can say, “I can do something about that!” The most powerful statement we can make is with our food choices. We must also send millions of messages about the Starch Solution—in person and electronically—to everyone we know.
2011 John McDougall All Rights Reserved