What the World Eats

Food and water are critical subjects on the world stage. 

Time Magazine shows “What the World Eats” in pictures. It’s a very insightful look into the diets of the wealthy and the poor, the most developed and the least developed nations. Time shows what we value, in terms of food, family, and lifestyle. 

There are many food documentaries out there that outline our food crises–the unintended consequences of building an industrial based food infrastructure in America, with experts building arguments on both sides of this subject: 

  • for and against GMOs (health and safety factors vs. food availability and pricing, nutritional content)
  • for and against factory farming (health and safety factors vs. food availability and pricing)
  • for and against certain diet lifestyles (locavores, vegan/vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free)

Consider these arguments carefully as you decide on a food and health lifestyle that is right for you. Consider whether there is injustice in the national food supply and what we might do to correct that. Are you happy with the food choices you make? Do you live a healthy and balanced lifestyle or might you be at risk for health issues mentioned in the documentary Food, Inc?

There are no completely right or wrong answers, because the industrial food supply chain in this country has the responsibility for feeding a lot of people both in and outside of America. However, there are situations where we, as a nation, can do much better in food pricing, quality, availability, and quality. Please put your thoughts in the comments. 


Food Insecurity and Water Rights

Food insecurity is a serious issue. Arable land can be scarce, and when combined with issues of water rights, we’re beginning to see areas of the world where this is getting serious.  In our 100People.org “food” video, it becomes clear that food and water are connected.  We need to look at food and water supply together.

I told a story about growing up in Eastern Connecticut. I lived in a suburb that had a lot of farm country sprinkled in and around. Growing up, there always seemed to be a farm at the top of the hill. I did a lot of cycling, so I noticed this–at the exact point where I could barely inch up the hill, there’d be a chicken farm. You haven’t experienced life until you’ve breathed in the richness of a chicken farm, knowing there was nothing you could do to bike any faster. I didn’t love that experience at the time. I do now. Now, I recognize that farms like these are disappearing from the landscape. Big business is taking over. The food supply in this country has been industrialized.

The idea of getting quality food is coming back into vogue.

Urban gardening and “guerilla gardening” have become movements in the United States and many parts of the world, and organizations like Food Tank are changing the way we see our food supply and infrastructure world-wide. Sometimes the smallest change–planting fruit trees in road medians rather than decorative plants, or tweaking an irrigation system, help people.

Here, you can see how one person with a vision changed an entire village. The video included on this Learnist board shows how water rights were central to conflict in the region of Gambella, Kenya. Artist, author, and entrepreneur AJ Leon organized thirty people, broke up the costs of building a windmill, and got the job done. Each person raised just $500. That’s doable. The windmill now stands, pumping water to over 600 families.

Food and water are critical things to consider. Avoiding waste, innovating solutions…these are things we need to discuss. They’re also things you can act upon. People are doing it. You can, too.

Issues to consider: 

  • unequal distribution of resources–how to get food and water where it needs to go
  • neocolonialism–the fact that many wealthy countries are buying land in poorer countries who may need the money now. When the land is sold, it’s generally used for companies and farming for the new owner
  • industrialized farming–one side of this argument says that big farms are necessary because we have a lot of people to feed. The other side says that by developing new seeds–GMOs–we’re becoming less and less healthy.
  • pollution–food and water supplies have become or are still contaminated in many parts of the world
  • the organic and local food movements–there is debate as to whether shopping locally or being organic is actually better. People feel strongly on both sides of this argument.

War of the Worlds

Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds caused quite a stir. Welles’ adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 19th century novel of the same name was pure theatre, but believable. The History Channel gives the backstory to the national fright, during which latecomers to the prime-time radio broadcast panicked, thinking Martians were actually invading the earth. The Federal Communication Commission investigated the incident, but in the end, the only backlash was that networks agreed to be more careful about what they broadcast.

Is this responsibility? Is it censorship?

Are there situations in today’s world that seem utterly outrageous yet humans seem willing to believe, propagate, or disseminate? Interesting questions, to be sure…ones that Welles’ production brought to the forefront back in 1938, and Adolf Hitler underscored just one year later.