At first, the numbers don’t seem to add up. The world produces more food than ever—enough to feed twice the global population. Yet, more people than ever suffer from hunger; and their numbers are rising. Today, 854 million people, most of them women and girls, are chronically hungry, up from 800 million in 1996. Another paradox: the majority of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas, where nearly all food is grown.
World Food Day on October 16 is a good time to try and understand the conundrum of world hunger. The root of the problem is the inequitable distribution of the resources needed to either grow or buy food (also known as poverty). World Food Day is an equally good time to call out one of the main culprits of the crisis: industrial agriculture, the very type enshrined in the Farm Bill that’s currently before the US Senate.
The Farm Bill has far-reaching implications for farmers and food systems the world over. It is set to perpetuate a process whereby heavily subsidized US factory farms overproduce grains that are dumped in poor countries, bankrupting local farmers, who can’t compete with subsidized prices. We’ve begun to hear a bit about the plight of these farmers, but few people know that most of them are women. In fact, women produce most of the world’s food. They do so on small plots of land, working hard to feed their families and generate enough income for things like school fees and children’s shoes.”