Twelve Myths About Hunger

Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset | 08.01.1998

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WHY SO MUCH HUNGER? WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

To answer these questions we must unlearn much of what we have been taught. Only by freeing ourselves from the grip of widely held myths can we grasp the roots of hunger and see what we can do to end it.

MYTH 1: NOT ENOUGH FOOD TO GO AROUND

REALITY: Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world’s food supply.

Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide evety human being with 3,500 calories a day. That doesn’t even count many other commonly eaten foods-vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide: two and half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a pound of fruits and vegetables, and nearly another pound of meat, milk and eggs–enough co make most people fat! The problem is that many people are too poor to buy readily available food. Even most “hungry countries” have enough food for all their people right now. Many are netexporters of food and ocher agricultural produces.

MYTH 2: NATURE’S TO BLAME FOR FAMINE

REALITY: It’s too easy to blame nature.

Human-made forces are making people increasingly vulnerable to nature’s vagaries. Food is always available for those who can afford it–starvation during hard times hits only the poorest. Millions live on the brink of disaster in south Asia, Africa and elsewhere, because they are deprived of land by a powerful few, trapped in the unremitting grip of debt, or miserably paid. Natural events rarely explain deaths; they are simply the final push over the brink. Human institutions and policies determine who eats and who starves during hard rimes. Likewise, in America many homeless die from the cold every winter, yet ultimate responsibility doesn’t lie with the weather. The real culprits are an economy that fails to offer everyone opportunities, and a society that places economic efficiency over compassion.

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