According to Jeffrey Sachs, an Economist and authority on global poverty, 8 million people die every year simply because they cannot afford to stay alive. Many of these are children. An appalling statistic. Thankfully very few indeed of these are in our country. However malnutrition is another matter and we do have that problem. Food deserts and poor nutrition are rampant in parts of this country and climate change can only exacerbate the problem.
In America poverty and ignorance are major causes of poor nutrition and hunger and while efforts like food stamps and wonderful work by both private and public social welfare agencies has been done, we still lack a national food policy that addresses the issue adequately. Clearly poor nutrition and the lack of available fresh food (25 million Americans live in Food Deserts and have no access to healthy fresh food) is a major cause of illness and escalating health costs as well.
People living in poverty cannot afford nutritious food for themselves and their families. This makes them weaker and less able to earn the money that would help them escape poverty and hunger. This is not just a day-to-day problem: when children are chronically malnourished, or ‘stunted’, it can affect their future income, condemning them to a life of poverty and hunger.
Climate and weather
Natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and long periods of drought are on the increase. Drought is one of the most common causes of food shortages in the world is exacerbating already adverse natural conditions.
In recent years, the price of food products has been very unstable. Roller-coaster food prices make it difficult for the poorest people to access nutritious food consistently. The poor need access to adequate food all year round. Price spikes may temporarily put food out of reach, which can have lasting consequences for small children. When prices rise, consumers often shift to cheaper, less-nutritious foods, heightening the risks of micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition.
One third of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) is never consumed. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security in a world where one in 8 is hungry.
America has no national policy on food production, quality, or distribution. We allow the marketplace to dictate how we grow, process, and distribute our food. As climate change begins to bite as we are now experiencing in California, our current method of growing food three thousand miles from the consumer will need to be reexamined.
Our Country, America needs a Sustainable and sensible food policy and we need it now.