Around the world, 820 million people are hungry and suffering from chronic undernourishment. While they starve, 672 million people suffer from obesity, and another 1.3 billion are overweight. Shocking, isn’t it? There’s something very deeply wrong with this picture.
Those numbers come from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization’s 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. For those of us who don’t give a second thought to where our next meals will come from, these statistics should really hit home.
What can we do to change this?
World Food Day is held every year on October 16th and is dedicated to tackling hunger and malnourishment. This year, the FAO drew attention to how after a brief period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again, and it called on world leaders to take action to beat it by 2030.
But why, after a period of decline, is world hunger on the rise again? The FAO blames conflict, climate change, and an economic slowdown for reversing some of the progress made over the years.
We can all play a part in the #zerohunger movement.
On personal levels, there are things you and I can do every day to fight against world hunger. The FAO came up with the following list:
Stop wasting food
Every year, 1.3 million tons of food is wasted. That’s one-third of all food produced for human consumption. We’re all guilty of doing it, whether it be by allowing food to go bad in the fridge or by tossing leftovers into the trash. Work your weekly groceries around several meals to reduce waste, and consider root-to-stem cooking, in which you use all parts of your produce for meals. When cooking carrots or beets, for example, use their stems for veggie stocks, stir-frys, and even pestos. Eat your leftovers and think about freezing them for another time if eating them the next day doesn’t appeal to you.
Adopt a healthier and more sustainable diet
There are so many recipes out there for quick and nutritious meals that can be cooked with 5-10 ingredients in less than 30 minutes time. Eating well doesn’t have to be difficult or elaborate. We can all make changes to our diets, choosing to eat foods that have been sustainably grown or produced. Reducing your meat intake, even by just a little bit, can have a significant impact on the environment.
Produce more with less
The world population is expected to hit 9 billion by 2050, and our agricultural land is stressed to the max. The FAO is calling on all farmers and gardeners to rethink the way we grow things; be kind to the Earth and choose only organic methods. The farmland will certainly improve, thus increasing a farmer’s yield and profits. There are also some amazing urban gardening initiatives that use very little space but hit very high production levels, such as container farming or rooftop greenhouses in the middle of bustling cities.
But we can’t do it alone.
We can’t be naive enough to think that we alone can solve the crisis of world hunger. We need more action from governments and industries.
As the FAO points out, 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas where their lives depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry. The #zerohunger movement is calling for a transformation of rural economies by asking governments to allow for better opportunities for private sector investments in agriculture. The FAO says this has to happen while social protection programs for the poor are given a shot in the arm.
The changes that need to be made are daunting. But they’re so important.