As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for food supplies. By 2050, the world’s agricultural production will need to be doubled to meet this demand, but at the same time use less of the world’s natural resources. In this month’s California Farmer, NST’s Kerry Tucker and Dan Dooley of the University of California, highlight the tipping point of change the agricultural industry faces and the need for farmers, large and small, to work together.
Nationally, 37 million Americans receive some sort of emergency food assistance, and that number has increased 46 percent in the last four years. Given the state of the U.S. economy, the recent news of the growing number of those losing their jobs and uncertainty in Congress about extending jobless benefits, we may be facing something bordering an epidemic of hungry, needy families.
Here in California, food banks are currently moving 100 pounds of surplus or unmarketable fresh fruits and vegetables each year from farmers to needy families. The objective is to get to 200 pounds per year, and I’m chairing a state Board of Food and Agriculture initiative to double the current amount of food going from farmers to needy families. Check out this California Farmer article on how we plan to get there.
And in the spirit of the holidays, The San Diego Union-Tribune (our client) is leading an aggressive food drive campaign to collect 1 million pounds of food. Chicken of the Sea, another client of ours, helped kick start that campaign with a 1,000-pound product contribution. Here’s how you can help: http://bit.ly/hKh083.
The ongoing public discussion about sustainability tends to make agriculture wrong unless its local or small farms, but the reality is feeding our communities, whether they be next door or around the world, lies with responsible food-production systems that produce all kinds of foods on all sizes of farms.
Some deplorable U.S. hunger statistics were published a couple of weeks ago in the Institute of Food Technologists newsletter. A study from Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief group, reports more than 37 million people – one in eight Americans – receive emergency food annually. This is an increase of 46% over a 2006 study. Hunger in America 2010 is the first research study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downturn and an increased need for emergency food assistance.
Couple this with estimates that the world will need 100% more food than currently produced to feed increases in world population by year 2050 and you see a daunting challenge in need of new and innovative solutions. The need to merge feeding objectives with increased productivity, poverty reduction and sustainability is surfacing in multiple professional forums around the world. It’s a movement long overdue.