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Combating world hunger: Small steps to fill billions of bowls

Tim Nixon  Managing Editor, Sustainability at Thomson Reuters

Tim Nixon  Managing Editor, Sustainability at Thomson Reuters

The launch of the 9 Billion Bowls feature is a powerful testament to the growing issue of world hunger. Our global population is growing rapidly, and many of us would like to enjoy the same eating lifestyle we see in the developed world. The problem is this: if we all ate like upper-middle class Manhattanites, the world will very likely become much hotter and much more biologically fragile over the next 100 years.

It simply takes too much carbon intensive energy for everybody to eat developed world diets. Think huge corn and soybean fields, which are tended by farmers using mostly fossil-fuel powered machinery. Instead of being consumed by people, much of what is produced from these farms is fed to livestock, which in turn consume large amounts of water and emit significant amounts of methane, all to result in the much coveted hamburger or sirloin, often frozen (consuming more energy) and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles (consuming more energy) to the consumer. An empty bowl representing the growing issue of hunger.

It’s easy to read this and become overwhelmed or even irritated, but we don’t have to. Put these important issues aside for the moment.

In fact, the simplest and most effective thing the world can do to help the rest of the world avoid malnutrition is:

  • Buy what you need.
  • Prepare what you will likely eat.
  • Save what you don’t for your next meal.

If we all start doing this over our lifetimes, these many small steps will help fill billions of bowls. We will give policy-makers time to sort out the more complex issues around supply chain, high-carbon energy and biological fragility.

Let’s be inspired by this compelling piece of work. Big things have small beginnings, which we can start on today, together.

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