Food is a problem for a good chunk of the planet. There are over 800 million undernourished people in the world, and millions more that have other forms of malnutrition. According to Mark Bittman, the problem is more one of poverty than of a lack of food. Maybe this is true, but almost all of the potential agricultural land on the planet is currently in use (with an enormous toll on the environment), and with a growing population and complications from climate change, it will be harder to produce enough food to meet the world’s needs.
National Geographic currently has an ongoing series called The Future of Food, and in the November 2014 issue, there’s a blurb with some interesting facts. They mention bug eating as part of the solution to hunger.* Additionally, it only costs a quarter a day to give a child a school meal with enough for leftovers. So that would be about 0.002% of the annual U.S. budget to end hunger in the world? Seems worth it.
The good news is that, largely thanks to the UN Millennium Development Goals, hunger is dropping quickly worldwide. And, with the follow-up to the MDG, Sustainable Development Goals, the plan is to effectively end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. There is some skepticism about these goals, but that shouldn’t deter us from trying. Imagine what an incredible human accomplishment this would be.
*I’ve had some involvement with the idea of entomophagy. My colleagues and I calculated the amount of land potentially required to meet the caloric needs of the world’s undernourished via insects, and it’s astonishingly small. Our paper was published in the Ecology of Food and Nutrition journal, and I’ll have more details on it in a future post.