The recent USDA report showing the hunger rate in the United States at its highest level since 1995 should serve as a call for everybody in the food system to work together to address the issues at the root of this growing problem, says Terry Fleck, executive director of the Center for Food Integrity.
 
Some argue the U.S. is overly proud of its ability to produce inexpensive food — that Americans should be willing to pay more for food that is safe and nutritious. World Bank data show that as a percentage of income Americans do spend less on food than any other country. But in total dollars U.S. consumers already spend more on food than any country except China, Fleck notes.
 
With the USDA’s latest report in mind, spending more money on food is obviously not the answer.
 
Fleck also points out that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates global population will grow an average of 1.1 percent while food demand will grow at 2.2 percent annually. Global land use will increase by less than 1 percent, resulting in a 16 percent reduction in world agricultural output by 2020.
 
The planet is rapidly running out of land to produce enough to feed a growing global population, Fleck says.
 
Investments in technological innovation in agricultural productivity and long-term sustainable production systems are needed to secure the future of the food supply. This includes the development and use of nutrients, pest control products, crop cultivars and farm equipment. It also includes the possibility of more genetically enhanced crops providing greater nutritional efficiency (more calories per yield, or increased yield), and use of farm management techniques that focus on whole-farm productivity over time, Fleck adds.
 
“In short, the food system must figure out how to produce more with less,” says Fleck. “We need more intensive and responsible production that is ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable. Positioning the debate as a choice between local farmers markets or industrial production is a false choice designed more to promote a point of view than solve challenging problems. 
 
“There is a need for thoughtful and deliberate discussion of how to feed more people using fewer resources in a manner that is supported by all stakeholders. This will require a commitment to address complex issues and look for lasting solutions that provide safe, nutritious and affordable food for consumers in the U.S. and around the globe,” concludes Fleck
 
Source: Center for Food Integrity