The aftermath of our nutrition

I wrote in my  last post about the world poor and our responsibility towards them. The biggest trouble with being poor is obviously not having enough to eat. Theoretically, there is enough to feed the 6,8 Billion people on our planet. We produce more food than ever – but there are still 30 Mio. people dying of malnutrition and its aftermath.

malnutrition (imagesource: web.mit.edu)

Want to guess how many people are underfed and how many suffer supernutrition?

13% of the world population (~880 Mio.) are malnurished, whereas 20% are supernurished (means: fat or obese). This supernutrition causes costs beyond belief. In Germany (e.g.) were in the year 2001 51,3 Billion Euro (76,75 Billion USD) spent for wrong alimentation and its sequela.

I guess you all have heard the term “disease of civilization”. It’s a group of sicknesses which are mostly caused through our “western diet”. That’s roughly two points: too much food from animals (meat, sausages, eggs, …) and too much industrial processed food (candy, convenience food, products from superfine flour). Stress, Alcohol, Tobacco and sitting a lot (in front of a computer) are causes too, but I’m focusing on food here.

Typical diseases of civilization are diabetes mellitus, cavities, high blood pressure, neurodermatitis, allergies, gout and, of course, overweight. Fighting those diseases through eating more vegetables and less processed food has a lot of advantages: Your health, your purse, the national budget, the climate (110 Mio. Tons out of the annually 260 Mio. Tons of CO2 emmisons in Germnay are caused by livestock breeding and the production of food from those animals) and better conditions for the underfed people in developing countries and farmed animals all over the world.

Especially the intensive mass animal farming in our countries has a direct relation to their hunger.

factory farming (imagesource: greenpeace.de)

In our times of NGOs and international auxiliaries are droughts, floods or other natural disasters not the capital causes for famines anymore. Wars, failed economic policy, armed conflicts and absolute rulers in combination with the unjust institutional world order I wrote about in my last blog entry are the main reasons. What makes it worse are the shortcomings in health care. Weakened from hunger with no access to clean water and only insufficient hygiene possibilities are those people prone for sicknesses.

Usually there is enough farmland in those countries to provide everybody with food, and even if not, they may have some raw materials they could sell to buy food. But because of wars, their starting position in our world economy or the countries elites, nearly all of them are heavily in debt and need to sell animal feed to us only to pay off the accruing interests.

There’s a competition of acreage between Food for the natives or animal feed for our animal farming. It doesn’t pay out to give the grain to the poor – they can’t pay for it, so 38% of world’s grain harvest goes into factory farming (in Germany 53%), which is a pretty ineffective way to use it: You need 12 units of wheat for 1 unit fowl, 10 units wheat for 1 unit beef, 3 units wheat for 1 unit pork but if you eat the wheat directly, it’s of course 1:1 (4:1 for eggs and 5:1 for milk).

You have next to no influence on world economic politics, but reducing your meat consumption (to one or two times a week) may have a bigger impact than you may think!

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3 Responses to “The aftermath of our nutrition”

  1. Salami Says:

    Is it weird I see the size of the problem only when I see those tiny hungry kids in Africa?
    It still makes me laugh how once in a piece on global worming they just wrote that number one cause is cow farts, and only then explained.

  2. Vinyanov Says:

    I cannot help feeling that if all the starving children lived into their adu… into their adolescence, they would kill themselves off anyway in armed conflicts sooner or later. It is the mentality. I feel that it is convenient to assume that some people (or maybe: people from some cultures) are just predestined to die off. You cannot effectively decrease mortailty in them. Why should I care whether they do die with their own hands (by murdering themselves in wars and genocides) or not (by, say, the means of country-wide hunger or epidemics)? Helping someone survive just to let him commit an effective suicide some years later seems pointless.

    People should try to “improve” and “help” the outside world less, in my opinion. The correct goal to improve the world, if there is any, is to excel morally for your own pleasure and satisfaction and therefore give example to others (in a passive, not an active way). If you are seen controlling yourself (for example, stopping eating meat), you therefore give an example to other people, who *would* do it too, but hitherto lacked an example, a model, an authority to follow. We can only change those people who have already grown to change themselves, but didn’t yet make the final decision.

  3. xiagan Says:

    Of course one goal should be to make these “rouge”-countries safer. As said in the blog post “Our responsibility”, without our support, the dictatorial leaders and “war-makers” wouldn’t have it that easy to suppress their countries and lead them into conflicts and wars.
    I don’t believe it is the “mentality” of those people, it may be the horrible circumstances they live in.

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