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Hunger Makes a Mockery of Today’s World Economy

Stashed in: Economics!, Light, Awesome, Plants!, The World, Transportation!, Poverty, Water!, World Hunger

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The real crisis is that the era of cheap food is over,” Robert Zeigler, the director-general of the International Rice Research Institute, told me in Bangkok recently. “The question is: How do farmers keep up with demand from 7 billion people at the same time climate change wreaks havoc with production?”

As we search for answers, those making $2 a day or less face an increasingly bleak future. Any gains in the incomes of billions of people will go toward basic foodstuffs -- corn, wheat, rice, dairy products -- not education or health care.

Asia is home to hundreds of millions of those surviving on $1 or $2 a day. It is also the closest thing the world has to a growth engine with Europe crashing and America barely expanding. That’s quite a paradox: The economic foundations of the region that investors hold in such high regard is beset by hunger.

India, for example, has 1.2 billion people and corporate executives the world over can’t wait to gain greater access to its growing middle class. Yet more than three-quarters of Indians eat less than minimum targets set by the government. How India reaches its full potential when bellies are empty is anyone’s guess. Similar questions will face China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and elsewhere when food prices jump the next time around. There is no time to waste to get smarter about using land, water, energy and technology to end world hunger.

Is there a good way to create food that does not rely on farming?

Here's one idea:

"With the correct balance of colored LED light, PlantLab has increased that efficiency to 12 or 15%, aiming for 18%. Double the efficiency means increased yield (or more likely equal yield with less energy). By keeping the plants in a contained system, PlantLab can also recycle evaporated water, which helps them grow crops using just one tenth the water as with traditional greenhouses. Because PlantLab’s harvest is indoors, they don’t have pests (and could quickly isolate rooms that somehow got contaminated) and they don’t need pesticides. Finally, PlantLab’s production facilities can be built almost anywhere: from the Sahara to the Artic, it’s all going to look the same indoors. So everyone’s food can be grown as local as possible. That means fresher food with less costs of transportation."

That is a great idea, since the cost of food is not just the cost of growing the food but also the cost of transporting the food.

More greenhouses + More irrigation = More locally grown food

Enter Gates Foundation: "But we probably won’t see PlantLab farms springing up around the world for at least a few more years. The biggest reason behind the delay are the LED lights."

You're kidding -- we're limited by the SPEED OF LIGHTS?!?!

Also, have you read a simple fix for farming?

Yep, and yep now. Reading up on corn. Wondering why humans eat it.

Humans eat it because we can. I wonder every day why people eat things like capers and mushrooms, and that horrible monstrosity of carbon-based life: rhubarb.. lol

Love the PlantLab thing.. I think I saw that story a few months ago about their tech... I would totally love the ability to buy veggies direct off of the vine right from the supermarket..

On buying veggies right off the vine: seems like they would be healthier, too.

Too good not to share. Please do check the "negatively impacting cell function" link and don't let all the exclamation points distract you. :-)

("A meat scientist and I were talking." THAT, my friend, is the new ice-breaker.)

We cannot start growing our food in labs fast enough for my taste. But I'm notorious for being able the eat the same thing every single day.

That might be a bonus, if the same thing is the right thing.

Yes, maybe the illusion of "choice" of what to eat is what leads to poor choices...

Oh, props prop props props PROPS!

How about the fact that nations are buying up precious arable land and water rights in the world's most impoverished areas. We haven't seen the tip of this iceberg.

Wasn't this the plot of The Omen III?

Why would nations do that? Just to make money?

Nations beholden to corporations, yeah.

Countries like China buy arable land in Africa for food production and import back to China. Corporations put water infrastructures in third world nations then charge people least able to afford it for their own resources. I'll pull up some interesting articles and documentaries when I get home.

@Adam: Here are a few links, but there are a million. Watch "Flow."

A couple links: academic sources say that land grabs are overreported, and started as a post-colonial friendship/diplomatic relationship. Most report that they prevent locals from having access to their land. "Flow" is a well done documentary about water rights. --This article discusses some of the entrepreneurs bringing water to locals--more favorable to them due to gov't corruption and inefficiency.

@Regina--The Omen III? Wow, Satan couldn't get it right the first two times? Who knew? Good news for the world...

@Chris--I'm interested in hydroponics, too. Probably won't try much of them because I escaped the city and have much more dirt, now. I don't think most of the hydroponic stores nearby support people growing lettuce and tomatoes, though...

:-). Thanks for the links. Back tomorrow.

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