Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solving World Hunger One Small Step at a Time

I often complain about the food served in the cafeteria at my school because I don't like the taste or way it is prepared. But while I complain about the food I have in front of me, people all around the world suffer and even die because they do not have food. They would love to have even a small piece of what I have in front of me.

As I was checking my Yahoo! account a headline caught my attention, "Earth Could be 'Unrecognizable' by 2050." I had to check it out. When I did, I was surprised by my own reactions; yet I also felt a little motivation. It struck me that although I am one person, I can do a little bit to help fight the increase in world hunger.

According to the article, by 2050 there will be an estimated 9 billion people on the planet. That is almost 2.5 billion more people than now and we already have a shortage in food. I have heard that the shortage is even worse this year with droughts and flooding throughout the world. But in 2050 there will be more people and less food per person. Reading a little further I saw that it took about seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. That struck my curiosity.

I went to Google to find out the average weight of a cow that is raised for beef. I found a list of different cows and their weight at birth, final weight and average weight gain. The document on the Virginia Tech website listed 11 different types of beef cattle. I averaged their average weight gain per day together and came up with 2.7 pounds per day. Then I multiplied that by seven pounds of grain and came up with 18.8 pounds.

Then I thought, almost 19 pounds of grains used in one day for one cow. If redistributed from the original growing locations, that could feed more than 19 people in a day. One meal is better than no meal, not to mention, most people in these starving nations probably would not eat a pound of grain in one sitting.

The article stated as income goes up, the consumption of meat also goes up. Wages are expected to more than double and even quadruple in some places by 2050.

The article quotes Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund as saying, "We will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000." It later quotes him, "By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable."

So, all of that and my mind began spinning. What can we do? My goal is to consume less farm-raised meat. I will continue to eat my normal portions of wild game, and maybe fish that my family or I have caught, but I want to consume less meat products. I won't be a vegetarian, but by consuming less, maybe in a year or two it will have some effect, although it may be negligible. But if everyone cut back on their meat consumption, what kind of difference could we make?

Of course, my mind didn't stop thinking after that. It continued on thinking of things that I could do. Then I remembered 30 hour famine, an event by World Vision, in which I helped last year. During the event, the youth group and adult leaders went without food for 30 hours. During that time we participated in fund raising, food collection and raising awareness about world hunger. Then I got an email from the local chapter of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars asking if anyone had ideas for service projects. I responded with the 30 hour famine.

I think I lost an hour, if not more, on my homework because I was thinking about this. Other organizations such as Heifer International, UNICEF and many others also help in their own ways and often need volunteers. Before I graduate, I would really like to get involved and help some how. So, step one: eat less meat.

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