I read a headline today that I couldn't ignore. BBC World News reports that "World hunger 'hits one billion'". What kind of headline is that? Is it a scream? Is it an announcement? Or is it a defeated sigh of resignation? One billion people. If you tried to count them all, counting one per second, it would take you over 31 years.
The article states that "One billion people throughout the world suffer from hunger, a figure which has increased by 100 million because of the global financial crisis, says the UN. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the figure was a record high. Persistently high food prices have also contributed to the hunger crisis." By "hunger," the FAO means food deprivation and undernourishment. They mean ongoing subsistence diets that are deficient in both calories and nourishment.
As I was reading about those one billion undernourished people (plus or minus a few tens of millions), I wondered about the concerns I face here in my little neighbourhood -- like how expensive the cereal aisle is getting at Superstore. And like how the high price of flour is jacking up the prices of things like bagels and the 12-grain breads that are so good for us.
But it doesn't usually take me long to remember how good I've got it in this rich land. After all, I only have to spend about 15% of my income on all the groceries we buy, and there's additional money available for my family to buy restaurant food as well. This article tells me that "For poor consumers, who spend up to 60% of their incomes on staple foods, this [higher food prices] means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power". When food prices go up for those one billion people who spend so much of their income on food, there's not much wiggle room when they're only making one or two dollars a day.
Are you still reading? If so, let's agree to spend less time worrying about the travesty of how much it now costs us to buy all those bags of groceries we bring home, and let's determine to do something to put food in the mouths of some of those one billion people who have never known the abundance we enjoy!
© 2009 by Ken Peters
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