Essay, Research Paper: World Hunger


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Every day an estimated 24,000 people die from hunger or hunger related causes.
Three-fourths of these deaths are children under the age of five. One may wonder
how this can be living in a country were it seems so much food is wasted
everyday. Food restaurants and grocery stores throw away food every night before
closing. Many Americans waste food every day within their own homes. With so
much "left over" food in American how is it that an estimated 800
million people around the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition?1 Well,
first we must define the word hunger. Hunger, in this case, is not just the
rumbling in ones stomach that most of us feel if we have not eaten for a few
hours. For this purpose, hunger is defined as "a condition resulting from
chronic under-consumption of food and/or nutritious food products. It may be
precipitated by an inability to obtain sufficient quantities of food to eat or a
failure to consume adequate quantities of nutritious food products, regardless
of the ability to obtain sufficient food supplies."2 The problem of world
hunger is not that there is not enough food produced in the world. "World
production of grain alone is over 1.5 billion tons, enough to supply the entire
world population with two pounds a day."3 This grain combined the current
production of other foods such as meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts is enough
to provide each adult and child on earth 3000 calories a day which is what the
average American consumes.4 Americans are not the only ones who waste food.
People all over the world are doing the very same thing. And the though it seems
that America has too much food, we Americans have hungry people living right
here in our own country. The world hunger problem lies within the changing
environmental conditions, population, and most of all, poverty. This paper will
discuss the causes, effects and possible solutions of world hunger. There are
three major causes of world hunger, changing environment conditions, population,
and poverty. The environment, of course, is the major element in the production
of food in most countries across the globe. The environment in which one lives
decides what types of food can be produced and how much of that food can be
produced. The weather or climate in any particular environment can change and
affect what people eat and how much of it they are able to eat. One change in
the environment that adversely affects agriculture is soil erosion. "Some
one-third of the world's cropland is loosing topsoil at a rate that undermines
its future productivity."5 Topsoil is a major factor in growing most crops.
It is the richest part of the soil and contains minerals and nutrients that most
plants need for survival. Too much soil erosion begins a chain reaction leaving
the land susceptible to drought. And as we all know, very little food can be
grown on dry land. A drought not only affects plants, but as a result of lack of
plants and water and in many cases extreme heat cattle are starved or die from
thirst. This loss of organic matter in the land results in runoff after rainfall
and increased runoff and rainfall allows for flooding. A flood, like the drought
though they are opposite, wipes away crops or kills them because of the
overabundance of water. People can attempt to produce food by planting and
caring for their land and animals, but Mother Nature has the ultimate say and
humans are unable to predict what she will do next. The next two causes of
hunger we will discuss together because they coincide, population and the poor.
Population is an issue not because there are too many mouths to feed, as was
stated earlier, but because the hungry people of the world are the majority who
have large families and continue to increase them, thus creating hungry
children. "Poor people have large families for many reasons…Reasons of
security for their old age. Reasons about additional help on the land. Reasons
concerning the cultural preference for sons. Reasons related to the laws of
inheritance. Reasons dictated by traditional religious behavior. And reasons of
personal pride"6 These are all reasons why poor people all over the country
continue to have large families generation after generation despite their
economic condition. The majority of the hungry live and work in rural areas. Why
are poor people affected so much by hunger? The answer would be seemingly
simple, that they are just unable to afford food. But let us examine more
closely other reasons the poor across the world are so stricken with hunger.
Many of the poor around the world are tenant farmers and do not own the land in
which they work and live.7 These tenant farmers are many times paid very little
for the service they provide to the owners and are unable to purchase the food
in which they helped produce. Those who do own a small plot of land for farming
their own land still need money to do so. In order to care for the land for the
benefit of food production a farmer needs tools as well as other materials and
resources, all items that cost money. "Adequate nourishment for a family
depends upon its ability either to produce enough food for its own needs or to
earn enough money to buy the food-or some combination of the two. Without this
ability color the family hungry."8 Malnutrition is the most common affect
of hunger. Malnutrition is "a term indicating an impairment to physical
and/or mental health resulting from failure to meet nutrient requirements. The
insufficiency of nutrients may result from inadequate nutrient intake or from
interference with the body's ability to process and utilize nutrients."9
Malnutrition causes many health conditions such as stunting of growth, tissue
wasting, cognitive and behavioral deficits, or starvation. The lack of vitamin C
that a hungry person does without can cause scurvy, loss of teeth, and a
weakening of the immune system. Lack of iodine in ones diet can cause crippling
or mental retardation. The lack of vitamin A in ones diet can cause blindness.
In its worst cases, malnutrition leads to death, especially in children.
"In Latin America and Caribbean, studies indicate that malnutrition is the
primary cause of or major contributing factor in 60 percent of deaths of
children under the age of five."10 Malnutrition hits hardest on the
children because they are still growing and developing immunities to disease and
developing strong healthy bodies. For a malnourished child, common illnesses
such as measles and diarrhea can lead to death. Seventy-five percent of the
people that die from hunger every 3.6 seconds across the globe are children
under the age of 5. Hunger affects adults as well by weakening their immune
systems and making them weak suspecting them to sickness and disease, which will
later lead to death. The solution to ending world hunger does not lie in money
or any other one answer. There are many ideas and "solutions" being
applied today, yet hunger remains. In terms of dollars the United States has
been the worlds largest donor of foreign aid.11 The U.S. Marshall Plan of 1948
was the first government foreign-aid program. General George Marshall outlined
the plan stating: "It is logical that the United States should do whatever
it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the
world…Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against
hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a
working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and
social conditions in which free institutions can exist…"12 The Marshall
Plan put major emphasis on grants and loans for repair of industrial plants and
infrastructure. The plan succeeded in many ways. One example is that by 1951
Europe's overall production rate had risen 37 percent. The four-point plan, the
first major plan for the third world country soon followed the Marshall Plan and
provided support to small technical assistance projects for a number of
developing nations.13 Since the Marshall Plan in the late 40s, the U.S. has
continued to help countries through foreign aid policies. However, foreign aid
does not just come from countries it can also come from private voluntary
organizations. Most often times these private organizations such as "Feed
the Children" and the "Christian Children's Fund" focus on
small-scale projects directed toward the third world countries. Another solution
to the problem of World Hunger is through education. The majorities of poor and
hungry people around the world are illiterate or have little education.
Providing these people with an education would allow them to act successful in
the job market, and allow them a better understanding of the politics and
conditions surrounding them. In this way education may also provide population
control by educating women about birth control methods and family planning.
Education may also enable farmers to learn better farming techniques and about
food conservation. World hunger affects everyone on our plant, not just the poor
or those living in third-world countries. Hunger touches each one of us because
we, the taxpayers, are helping to aid it. Not only does it touch our pockets,
but also it touches our conscious. How can anyone look at a starving child and
not think about the food that they waste day in and day out. How can we stand by
and watch people that go to work everyday like ourselves and cannot afford to
feed their families. It is unfair that we live in a world where food is thrown
out in the garbage rather than used to save the life of a child.
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