Hunger in today’s world is not the result of scarcity but inequality. In a world of abundance where more than enough food is produced to feed everyone, it is terrifying to discover that 842 million people are hungry and malnourished.
This situation is to blame for nearly half of the deaths of children under the age of five. There are two food systems in our globalised world. On one hand there is industrial production, processing and international trade with commodities controlled by several large corporations. On the other, however, is a food system that continues to provide nourishment to the majority of the world’s population through countless small and local forms of production and trade.
While the industrial food system generates tremendous profits, it is not able to provide people adequate amounts of healthy food. Hunger, i.e. a situation in which people do not have sufficient food, therefore exists side by side with the growing problem of excessive consumption and obesity, as well as malnutrition, when people have food but its quality is low and the content of basic nutrients is insufficient for a healthy life.
The impacts of the industrial system on the planet are so significant that they threaten our future capacity to feed the world’s population. Accountability has been lost in the long supply chains and the method for food distribution has led to large-scale waste.
Small local systems providing food are often marginalised and declared obsolete, which could become a self-fulfilled prophesy, since these food systems are neglected by politicians, research and investments. However, the reality is that these systems not only form the foundation of the world’s food supply, they also have the potential to eradicate hunger, restore the environment and bolster social justice.
Gender inequality, poverty, exclusion and unequal access to power disrupt the existing food system. If we wish to at least try to change the situation for the better, we will have to address these forms of injustice.