Written By: Preston A Saunders
Since 1995, the amount of malnourished and hungry people on every continent has been
on the rise. The gap between wealth brackets is growing exponentially, more so in this century
than in any other. Poor populations continue to grow poorer, even if hardworking and frugal, due
to wealth inequality and lack of policy that supports a livable working wage. This leads to
decline in availability of locally sourced and reasonably affordable produce, misconceptions
about our abilities to produce food, and the hoarding of food by economic powerhouse countries.
For people in already unstable financial situations, many times a choice has to be made
between paying for housing and paying for adequate food supplies. Because global consumption
is a volatile market, especially in less-developed countries, food prices are difficult to predict and
take a toll on an impoverished family’s budgeting. Many of our fruits and vegetables, which
come from tropical and farming regions around the equator, are exported to “First World”
countries instead of local populations in order to fetch a higher payoff. Thus, citizens in lower
wage brackets gravitate toward cheaper, processed foods that negatively impact health in the
long-term. This makes it more difficult to work labor-heavy jobs, which are typically gateway
jobs, and can result in lowered household income. The cycle continues every day in all areas of
However, policymakers instead see hunger in terms of not growing enough produce.
Productionist theories of modernization place blame on the lack of efficient technologies, and
neo-Malthusianism cites the imbalanced ratio of food to humans. These have become the
targeted issues in modern media. However, without guidelines, any surplus of food created due
to these will simply be transported to wealthy areas. Non-productionist theory emphasizes social inequality, global trade, and poverty— as well as air and soil degradation— as the main causes. Respect for human rights lies at the root of many problems, and food insecurity is one of them.
Food security is becoming a category that requires more rigid legislation. In 1992, the
world population consisted of 5.453 billion people. Scientists calculated that if everyone were to
receive proper, healthy portions, the global food supply would only be able to sustainably cover
3.2 billion. We are already behind, and if population projections are correct, we will need to
supply food for around 9 billion people by 2050. A major reason for this imbalance is the
reckless amount of food waste we leave uneaten every year. Many food products are bought in
bulk by consumers that can afford to in higher amounts than necessary, depleting supplies and
leading to mass unused or spoiled food. Not only do many people in richer countries regard
produce as a given, but we throw it away without a thought. For example, in American
restaurants, many diners leave half of their meal uneaten. We throw away stale bread and
overripe fruit instead of using a compost bin, and we rarely experience the true pain of being
hungry. I have definitely wasted my fair share of food as well. In combining the dangers of
climate change and overconsumption, without more restrictions on and better governance over
the amount of food allotted to each region of the world, global hunger will soon become global
starvation unless we learn to regulate resource distribution.
Buttel, Frederick H. “Ending Hunger in Developing Countries.” Contemporary Sociology, Vol.
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151–161. May 1994.