The Geopolitics of Food

I am not a fatalist. Perhaps, I’m naive. I keep up with foreign and domestic politics, generally, but perhaps not enough. From war to natural disaster, we all know that person who insists, the world is at a breaking point. I have faith, that as humans we will continue to innovate new solutions. While humanity has seen the depths of cruelty and disregard we are capable of, I honestly believe in the limitless kindness and ingenuity of human nature. While I think awareness is essential, obsessive focus on negative is of little use, and only results in extreme frustration. I generally stay away from topics such as this, in part because I’m tired of hearing these doom-day cries from people who continue to offer no solutions, as well as arguments for the sake of arguing and hearing oneself speak. And although I can’t pretend I have any real answers, the global politics of food and hunger are of immense interest to me.

Through my travel, personal interactions, and education I have continued to foster a serious interest in foreign and domestic policy related to food. So much so, I feel compelled to help in any way I can. I am even considering continuing my education so that I can have a substantial, even if minimal, impact.

Instead of going into great depth, because, after all this is not a political blog…I will link some articles for further reading for anyone who’s interested.

It’s fairly well-known that we are currently facing a severe food crisis. As the population expands we are growing increasingly less able to feed the world. From grain shortages, to natural disaster and rising costs (75% increase in grain prices) it is very clear that without intervention hunger is going to see exponential growth. While it minimally impacts us here in the US (for now), raising costs by mere cents, for others the result is often going from two meals to one. Further reading here.

We have long been trying to solve hunger problems globally. Yet, our efforts haven’t been nearly as successful as hoped. Many attribute this to the “poverty trap”-the idea that the poor are unable to make investments in solving endemic problems, and thus remain poor. But recent studies are beginning to question this. Perhaps,  they are choosing to spend their money elsewhere. When given more money, people tend not to eat more, in fact, they often eat less. They spend their money on better food, or other non-food luxuries. If more food equalled more productivity and income, it would be assumed that people would in fact eat more. But they aren’t, suggesting a significant hole in the nutrition based poverty-gap theory. Other factors may be implicated, such as improved sanitation or less physically demanding jobs, resulting in lower caloric requirements. Clearly, how policymakers and foreign aid agencies views hunger needs to be altered, and money that is poured into failing systems needs to be reevaluated. Further reading here.

I have long held an interest in food and nutrition, specifically, the biochemistry of nutrition. Which lead me to get my bachelor’s degree as well as attend culinary school.  Paired with foreign policy interest garnered  by traveling, these issues clearly focus on my life passions. I have admittedly been “lost” in my pursuit to find my final career path. These past few years of uncertainty have been exhilarating and life changing, and I feel, finally as if I’m getting a grasp of what I should do. I should only be lucky enough to have a career I am passionate about, and I’m truly beginning to see how to make that happen.

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