The New York Times “Food for Tomorrow” conference convened this week to address ways to fix our food system. Attendees and speakers include an impressive array of visionaries. Mark Bittman, food writer for the Times, delivered the the keynote address which, along with an op-ed piece, challenged the agribusiness apothegm “feeding the world.”
The central theorem behind industrial agriculture is increased production. This assumes that people are hungry because there is a net lack of food. It assumes that if only we could produce more and get it to where it needs to go, then, and only then, will people not be hungry. This, Bittman challenges, is just not the case. Recounting a dinner party at which a friend expressed concern over increasing food production, Bittman’s reply reflected:
The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it’s money. There are no hungry people with money; there isn’t a shortage of food, nor is there a distribution problem. There is an I-don’t-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food problem.”
Simply stated, although there are many challenges in our food system, Bittman echoes the sentiments of visionaries like Michael Pollan and others who acknowledge that solving hunger is inextricably linked to solving poverty. It is primarily an economic issue that won’t be solved by growing more corn in America.
His impassioned keynote expands on the same issue and is not to be missed.
The slogan should not be ‘let’s feed the world’, but ‘let’s end poverty’. That may not be profitable. But this isn’t about the business of agriculture, it’s about justice and political power."
Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion via New York Times
Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson