By Bridget Diana Soeder
Twenty-million people die annually due to hunger and its effects. Although this is a result of many complex interrelated geographic, social and economic factors, the remedy to this tragedy is ideally quite simple. An even slightly more equitable distribution of food resources (which could be fueled by a larger agrarian output) would alleviate much human suffering.
Within the United States alone, if Americans reduce the amount of meat consumption by just 10%, it would free up enough land to grow 12 million tons of grain -enough to save the millions of children and adults starving to death on our planet each year.
The United States however, is not alone in its potential to increase its’ crop yields through a reduction of meat production. Many additional countries have a suitable climate, the farmable landmass, and technology to grow an adequate surplus of food, which could assist in the ending of world hunger.
Consider that there are 2,805 calories available worldwide per person per day, yet the minimum requirement for caloric intake needed, is set at 2,300 per person per day. Even while maintaining the first world citizens high caloric intake, slightly modifying this population’s diet away from meats towards more vegetables, fruits, and grains could result in more available calories which may then be used to help the less fortunate people of this earth.
Compare the following facts about food production: It takes 23 gallons of water to produce a pound of tomatoes. It takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.
One acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes. One acre of land can produce 165 pounds of beef.
It takes 1 pound of grain to make 1 pound of bread. It takes 20 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef.
Also compounding the problem is the fact that much of the food that is produced in the third world is often exported to first world countries. The United States is the world’s leading importer of beef and fish. The vicious cycle of poverty sends these commodities abroad to markets that do not exist at home. This cycle is in some part, perpetuated by the poverty induced by unnecessarily high levels of animal farming.
Unfortunately most of the foreign aid sent to third world countries do not even reach the people it is intended to help. 75% of the grain sent to third world nations goes towards livestock production. This livestock ends up in the U.S. and Western Europe.
So it is clear, not only that greater produce and grain yields must be produced and distributed more favorably, but also that these distribution channels must be efficient in aiding the people who starve … not the westerners who are already stuffed.
Return to Articles