The Hunger Puzzle

(As featured in The Telegram on Monday, October 24th 2011)

It's a complex one and one with many pieces. With a picture on the box, it seems easy enough to solve.
The edge pieces to most seem like the logical place to start – akin to creating more food and equalizing
its distribution. We soon realize, with all pieces right-side up that the finished picture will take more
time and thought. After completing the puzzle frame, we can see those 'where to place' middle ones.
Empowerment of women, the price of food, livestock, and the specific food we eat - all crucial pieces,
which, when placed in the right spot could solve the picture. Such is the puzzle of the picture of
hunger.

After World Food Day, experts across the globe gave their input as to how we can control and modify
the crisis of 1 billion, or 1 of every 6 people, not having enough to eat. The ideas below are a summary
of the most interesting thoughts and innovative ways reviewed for us to solve this picture puzzle.

Empowerment of women. Specifically, women in developing areas of the world. Here women are the
primary caregivers and teachers. They are in charge of feeding families, the bulk of agricultural work,
while working long hours daily in fields and then marketing crops and fish for sale. While doing all
this, they are too discriminated against and denied access to information and resources in comparison to
men. Empowerment benefits women, families and communities. This powerful step alone is said to be
able to decrease hunger for 150 million people.

Genetic engineering. Making crops and foods more efficient and effective for growth and production.
They can be built to produce greater yields, withstand weather elements, disease and pests. A new
science, with still much to learn but in the most simplistic view, increased production of reliable food
can help with world hunger and malnutrition.

Increase food cost. Ironic yes, as rising foods costs are also thought to be a problem. This train of
thought however is based upon wastage. It's estimated that 30% of food worldwide is wasted and in
Canada and the US specifically we waste about 50% of food. Some foods can be quite costly, but there
is also the other side of the spectrum where many are cheap and available in large quantities too (some
being the unhealthy choice, i.e. $1 drive through menu items, $0.30 noodles in the grocery store). But
the notion is true that people will respect something more if there is a higher dollar value associated
with it. If food was to get more expensive would you think twice about wasting as much as you do?

Eating less meat. Livestock requires more water, grain, soybean, corn and sometimes land than it's
veggie counterpart. Interestingly enough, meat production globally continues to rise and so does
hunger. Maybe the food we are using to the feed animals we eat could be used to feed people. We
(especially in North America) are consuming more meat than ever before, in greater frequency and
proportions.

There are many pieces to the puzzle, but it seems that we have nearly all the ones we need. We've got
the framework done, and now it's a matter of placing those in the centre to solve the hunger picture.