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Will Making More Food End World Hunger?

Some people believe this “hunger crisis” (which is only expected to get worse) is due to insufficient food production. If we simply produce more food, the thinking goes, then the problem of world hunger will be solved.

Not so, says Mark Bittman in a recent NY Times op-ed. We live in a world where food is actually produced in abundance. The problem isn’t lack of food – it’s lack of access to food. Due to poverty and the unintended consequences of industrial agriculture, billions of people are unable to produce or procure healthy food, despite its unprecedented abundance.

Here is how he makes his point:

“Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because (you) would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

This makes sense to me. If people had more money – or if they grew their own food – they would have what they need to eat.

Mark also makes the point that industrial agriculture produces food that is not sufficiently nutritious. Therefore, even people who can buy it suffer from malnutrition, obesity etc. This is what he says:

And how do we help those who have malnutrition from excess eating? We can help them, and help preserve the earth’s health, if we recognize that the industrial model of food production is neither inevitable nor desirable.

There’s plenty of food. Too much of it is going to feed animals, too much of it is being converted to fuel and too much of it is being wasted.

Does the life insurance industry also have a problem of access? Are people “hungry” for coverage, but cannot afford it? I do not think so. People have a very strong measure of control over their insurability, and therefore the price they would pay. If you want the lowest rate possible, buy the policy now instead of waiting until you are older. If you have a medical condition or lifestyle issue that is raising the price, you have the power to address that.

I do, however, believe that many people with life insurance are “under-nourished.” The coverage they have is insufficient for the needs of their family, business, or estate. This problem with could also be fixed with proper attention to needs assessment and financial planning.