By Stelios Elliniadis
“Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. Over the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the world produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s already enough to feed 10 billion people, the world’s 2050 projected population peak. But the people making less than two dollars a day – most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating un-viably small plots of land – cannot afford to buy this food.
In reality, the bulk of industrially produced grain corps go to biofuels and confined animal feedlots rather than food of the one billion hungry. The call to doublefood production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize the growing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.”This comes from the editorial of Journal of Sustainable Agriculture (USA) commenting on a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota published in the journal Nature. One of many similar studies from universities, research centers and organizations on humans and the environment all over the world. Understandably, the scientific truth on food is incompatible with the nature of the capitalist system, in which choices and priorities are determined by profit maximization and not by the real needs of the people. That is why even politicians who are well-informed in the rich West do not raise such issues in depth. And when they are under pressure, they do so in line with the logic of large multinational corporations that see food not as a necessity for all people, but as a means to increase their profitability and increase their shareholders’ dividends. A plant that the common man considers as food, the food companies exploit it as merchandise, as fuel for cars!Also, along the capitalist logic, only those who can afford to pay have access to food and, in fact, with prices that the capitalist market sets. So whoever does not have enough money to buy food is indifferent to the capitalist provider, indifferent to the politician who believes in the same system, capitalism, and protects it.In recent years, it has been revealed in detail, creepy to those with non-capitalist sensitivities, but completely normal to those favored by the way the market directs food, that, in addition to the unnatural conversion of food into diesel and other lucrative non-food products, the rich world consumes much larger quantities of food per capita –people even harming their own health from the greed that has taken over them, and accordingly throws away as garbage huge quantities corresponding to about 30% of world food produced! Outrageous, but true.
ObesityPeople in the western world consume quantities and calories well above the maximum permissible for the physical and mental health of man. As a result, the percentage of overweight tends to exceed the percentage of people with normal weight. If we take into account that, for example in the USA, which is on top of the world in food consumption and obesity rates, the percentage of overweight, even from childhood, is of the order of 36.20%!Below, but high in the ranking, are Great Britain with a percentage of 27.80%, Germany 22.30%, France 21.60% and Italy 19.90%, but also Greece with 24.90%. That is, people in the West, to the detriment of themselves, eat abusively and excessively the food which others need to survive! At this point, it is interesting to mention that China, which has become the second largest economy, still has one of the lowest overweight rates in the world at 6.20%.According to the World Health Organization, obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Worldwide, over two billion people are estimated to be overweight, one third of whom are obese. Note that overweight-related deaths are higher than underweight-related deaths (with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia). Obesity-related deaths in the United States alone number about 300,000 a year.The main cause of obesity, in simple Greek, is hypertrophy burdened with sugars and fats. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and even coronavirus are preferred by the overweight.WasteWasting food is also outrageous. One third of the food does not end up in the bellies of the hungry, but in garbagecans and landfills. In Germany alone, which is one of the most organized countries and the issue of waste is open and discussed, 15 million tons of food are thrown away every year! And of these, according to experts, 9 million could be saved and distributed properly!The same is true everywhere, especially in the developed western world. To change this disgrace, to stop or contain this crime against humanity, we need a decisive stance on the part of the political staff, which does not exist, the reorganization of food management and the adaptation of the food industry, which also does not exist, plus, given that 50% of food ends up in landfills by households, a different kind of education, which does not exist either.
And of course, there is another very serious reason to reduce waste and better redistribute food. The perverse way of managing food from the design, production, processing, transportation, sale and consumption, all of which are basically run and determined by the metropolises of capitalism and multinational corporations, has frighteningly negative consequences for the environment, climate change and the overall survival of every living organism, including humans.
Huge quantities of drinking water are wasted, seas, rivers, lakes and groundwater are polluted, forests are cleared to spread crops and the atmosphere is polluted by carbon dioxide produced in the process of production, processing and transport of food, etc.
This is the normal function of capitalism imposed by the West worldwide. And the lack of a real and organized Left is glaring. A Left that will not imitate the Right, even the Center, a Left that, in addition to salaries, wages and freedom of expression, will have on its flag the issue of climate change and the right of people, of all people, in food.The ultimate goal of overthrowing the current political regime, which is destroying every ecosystem and threatening all species of life on earth, will be achieved, as a just and lasting solution, only if the Left is able to inform and cultivate, awaken and stir up the society against everything that is inhuman and unnatural. But even if there is no such Left in the West, and if no other force does, it will -sooner or later- be adjusted and regulated by nature itself, part of which, and not a stallion from another universe and another dimension, extraterrestrial or metaphysical, is every society.Because this imbalance and inequality that is constantly widening, if not addressed by the prevalence of another culture that is more just, equal, balanced and natural, and if there is no harmony based on common sense, inevitably will lead to unpredictable magnitude explosions that no mind can conceive. Coronavirus is just a small warning…
This article first appeared in Dromos tis Aristeras, Greece. The author is a journalist and documentary filmmaker.