Tuesday, 15 April 2008

I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.Matt 25 v 42-43.

In Haiti, they are eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: biscuits made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

... Haiti has been poor, desperately poor, for a very long time. Last week, the desperation reached a boiling point as the price of food rises across the globe. Haiti has always been a unique example of all that can go wrong in a country — years of U.S. supported dictatorship, political corruption, disenfranchisement of the majority of the population, high rates of illiteracy — and such exploitation of the natural resources of the island that it is an environmental wreck, its forests gone, its topsoil washed away, a small nation unable to support its own population, dependent on food imports to feed its hungry population.

There have been riots in Bangladesh, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal. Rising prices have hit poor countries like Peru. From last December, 37 countries faced food crises, and 20 had imposed some sort of food-price controls. The U.N.’s World Food Program says it’s facing a $500 million shortfall in funding this year to feed 89 million needy people.

Add to that the insult of rising prices for food staples because of us and our economies. Because of rising prices for fuel, the switch from agriculture for food production to agriculture for energy production, the peak oil and gas crisis, the growing economies in countries with huge populations (China, India, Brazil) who have a growing appetite for beef from the cows that eat enormous amounts of grain.

We in the West over-consume, over-purchase, and eat out as though it is going out of fasion. We ruin basic food ingredients in our fast food restaurants, in our packaged, processed groceries, and throw huge amounts in landfill or compost. In the UK alone we consign between 25-33% (£3 billion)of uneaten or unused food into landfills and compost so adding both to the demand and to the higher prices. It may be hard to believe but in the UK we throw out 4.4 million apples a day, yes you read correctly, see here.

The EU insists that in order to 'protect' our UK fisheries, cod, when caught in some areas along with other fish is thrown back, but only 5% survive. Utter madness.

We insist on getting whatever food we want whenever we want, in season or out, so that many poor countries export food for cash while their people go hungry and we insist on mixing grain oils into our petrol so that we can continue to drive as we please, be as mobile as we please.

And in the Third World people starve... Should not Jesus words send a shudder down the spine of every one of his followers

1 comment:

barefoot gardener said...

Great post. Very moving...