Last Friday, professor of Anthropology Ellen Messer spoke about Food and Security: Crisis, Challenges, and Choices. She addressed hunger, defined as access to nutritionally adequate food. Although enough food is produced worldwide to feed everyone a nutritionally adequate diet, there are the problems of access, unhealthy food choices, and underdeveloped community food organizations.
Photo source: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/356.cho/children_in_poverty_worldwideOne problem decreasing access to wholesome foods is high prices. High prices can result from decreased production (due to weather, politics, and warfare), increased demands for commodity crops and biofuels, a decreasing economy, and more. Because farmers see so little returns for their crops, many end up growing a combination of cash and specialty crops in order to have enough food to eat, while still making enough money to survive.
More than half of the hungry live in 7 countries: Bangladesh, China, DRC, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
There are controversial solutions to these problems, including biotechnologies vs. agroecological/organic technologies, large-scale vs. small-scale farming, and free vs. fair trade.
What the individual can do: You can become more a more informed consumer: suggested reads included What to Eat by Marion Nestle and Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. Several international organizations involved with sustainable food systems worthy to look up are Oxfam International, Care, and Global Exchange.
The next lecture in the gastronomy series: Henry Ford, Colonial Kitchens, and the Performance of National Identity by Abigail Carroll on March 27!
And if you haven't checked out the Culinary Historians of Boston yet- they have a monthly speaker series always open to the public!