Food as a Commodity

When food is treated as a commodity, only those who can afford to pay for it get food.. To illustrate this further, the following is worth quoting at length:

To understand why people go hungry you must stop thinking about food as something farmers grow for others to eat, and begin thinking about it as something companies produce for other people to buy.

Much of the best agricultural land in the world is used to grow commodities such as cotton, sisal, tea, tobacco, sugar cane, and cocoa, items which are non-food products or are marginally nutritious, but for which there is a large market.

Millions of acres of potentially productive farmland is used to pasture cattle, an extremely inefficient use of land, water and energy, but one for which there is a market …in wealthy countries.

More than half the grain grown in the United States (requiring half the water used in the U.S.) is fed to livestock, grain that would feed far more people than would the livestock to which it is fed.

The problem, of course, is that people who don’t have enough money to buy food -- and more than one billion people earn less than $1 a day -- simply don’t count in the food equation.

What this means is that ending hunger requires doing away with poverty, or, at the very least, ensuring that people have enough money or the means to acquire it, to buy, and hence create a market demand for food.

— Richard H. Robbins, Readings on Poverty, Hunger, and Economic Development

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