There’s nothing more fundamental than food, and nowadays there seems to be even more variety to choose from, than anytime in history. But how many people know where the food that they eat was actually produced, by whom, and with what resources used and wasted and what additives added? How does the path from the modern farm to the kitchen affect people and the planet? People eat their daily bread without being conscious of the massive loss of topsoil, diversity, and farm communities involved in its production. People happily munch on hamburgers without a thought to the forest being destroyed for cattle grazing or the immense cruelty in the raising and slaughtering of the animals. Mothers continue to urge their children to eat their vegetables, unaware of the pesticide poisoning of their waters, farm workers and wildlife that is involved. And these are just some of the simple fears that people who have access to food have to worry about. What about those who go day by day without eating sufficient nutrients for their body to function. What about all the poor starving: people that are a reality that exist in society today.
Yes, poverty is a reality in Belize, just as it is for millions of other human beings on the planet. Despite all the money that is invested in frivolous projects created by the government and all the money that Belizeans pay in taxes, we still have a significant amount of starving citizens. It’s also despite abundance of food resources. Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. 700 million hungry human beings in different parts of the world, especially in Belize, would have gladly accepted this food.
The problem therefore does not lie in the fact that there is not enough food being produced, instead the problem lies in the amount of food being wasted. In fact, according to a 1997 study by US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) entitled “Estimating and Addressing America’s Food Losses”, about 96 billion pounds of food, or more than a quarter of the 356 billion pounds of edible food available for human consumption in the United States, was lost to human use by food retailers, consumers, and foodservice establishments in 1995. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fluid milk, grain products, and sweeteners accounted for two-thirds of the losses. 16 billion pounds of milk and 14 billion pounds of grain products are also included in this loss. This is food that could have fed millions! According to the US Department of Agriculture, up to one-fifth of America’s food goes to waste each year, with an estimated 130 pounds of food per person ending up in landfills. The annual value of this lost food is estimated at around $31 billion.
When statistic like the above are brought to light it seems cruel to think that people are actually left starving in America and all over the world as well. The first paradox is that the world has never grown so much food; there is no overall scarcity and food has seldom been so cheap. The simple equation in the politics of food today is that hunger equals poverty.
What we see now is the relatively new phenomenon of increasing hunger among ever-greater abundance. Just because a country produces more food does not mean it has no malnourished people. Therefore there is no need to focus on the way food is produced because as it is there is an abundance of food. The way of production should never matter when people are starving. It is a simple matter of importance. Is it the lives of the people or the lives of the fauna? The answer is pretty clear cut. The only challenge now is how to prevent such wasting of food and use it to feed the massive numbers of people who are starving. This is a matter that lies solely in the hands of the government and their policies. They could either recheck their budget plan or invest more time as well as money in the starving people.