Overfed and Undernourished

From The Washington Post:

Paki If you think the biggest food problems you are ever likely to face are safety issues like outbreaks of salmonella (spinach in 2006, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers this summer) and the high cost of organic produce, you’re woefully naive. Because, as Paul Roberts and Raj Patel will tell you, the food we eat is part of a global system, one made possible by international trade and transportation systems as well as advances in preservation technologies. And, they warn, this once promising and plentiful system has become vulnerable, over-extended and inadequate to feed the hungry. “On nearly every level, we are reaching the end of what may one day be called the ‘golden age’ of food,” writes Roberts.

Both authors lament that, in today’s world, superabundance paradoxically exists alongside persistent global hunger. Each points to the drive for cheap food as a major culprit in the current crisis. As Roberts puts it, “Demand from consumers, who expect the food they buy to be better and cheaper every year, but, even more important, demand from retailers . . . as well as food service giants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s . . . have put the sellers of food, not the producers, firmly in charge of the food chain.”

More here. (Picture: A Pakistani boy waits for his rice ration, Aug. 10, 2008).