Obesity and Hunger are one problem

Ellen Gustafson, the co-founder of FEED which aims to increase food security by providing meals to schoolchildren (so far, it has distributed almost 55 million meals around the world), has recently started another project called the 30 Project. She founded the 30 Project because of something she calls the 30-year gap (you can find the video here). There is a 30 year gap between the spread of food systems around the world and the spread of agronomical technology. The year 2010 marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the evolutionary food system that has put more emphasis on fast and cheap food rather than quality and nutritious food. It is therefore the 30th anniversary during which obesity has not only become an American problem but also an increasingly global one. Yet ironically, it is also the same anniversary that world hunger has increased to more than 1 billion victims. It is in this sense that obesity and hunger are actually just one problem. Though the food system has been dispersed around the world, farming technology, especially in developing countries, is still lacking- 30-year worth of progress as compared to the technology found in developed countries. This is the reason why most of the victims of hunger and poverty are still subsistence farmers.

This year is the start of a new 30-year cycle, which means that this is the start of the spread of more modern farming technology to the rest of the world and also the start of a potentially new food system. It is also the year of which all of us around the world can take advantage and be a part of the solution to our hunger and obesity problems. This is the reason why Ellen founded the 30 Project, which aims to influence the new food system and make it emphasize more on nutritious food rather than cheap and un-nutritious food so that we can stop obesity in its tracks.

While the 30 Project is a great idea and of which I am a great supporter, why can’t we also do something about decreasing the 30 year gap and increase the speed of technological transfer around the world? In my opinion, hunger is more of a problem since it mostly affects women and children, and as a heavy supporter of the Girl Effect (please watch video here), I feel like we will empower more people in the long-run and create more social change through solving the problem of hunger. One way we can do so is through somehow increasing the speed of transfer of agronomical technology around the world so that we decrease the 30-year gap. While there will always be a gap between the dissemination of food system and that of technology, I believe that we can definitely decrease the gap so that the hunger and obesity won’t be so much of polar opposites and that we can make a better equilibrium between the two (either through a more efficient distribution of food or through an increase of production of food). If we can emphasis more on technological transfer and training in the battle against hunger (and obesity), we can more quickly get to a world-without-hunger.


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