Thinking of the entire world as a village may help us make better choices.
Sunday morning, lying in bed after hitting the snooze button at 0515, I began thinking about donating a half-dozen copies of our book to our very own Stonington Free Library — an effort on my part to be a good citizen of our little village by the sea.
That triggered a thought about the use of the phrase, It takes a village, in our book. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6 entitled “Mouths to Feed” and focusing on the ever-growing issue of world hunger:
Living in a small coastal community in Connecticut, I understand the meaning of the phrase “It takes a village.” The quality of life for everyone is enhanced by the interests and actions of their neighbors; the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Located on a densely populated peninsula, my quaint New England village is almost like a small college campus where everyone eventually gets to know one another.
Let’s imagine that our village of 1,000 residents has 1,000 acres of arable land within walking distance. The citizens and their leaders must decide what to produce on that land: grain, cows, vegetables, chickens, fruit, and/or pigs? If they proceed according to the model in the world of today, they will use over 900 acres to produce lots of meat and dairy products for the 300 wealthiest residents. That will leave fewer than 100 acres to provide food for the remaining 700 people—clearly not enough land to survive, no matter what kind of food they are eating. Sounds absurd, right? But that is the direction we are headed in the early part of the twenty-first century.
That’s right, with roughly 8 billion acres of arable land on the planet, we have seven billion people with “mouths to feed.” With a little over one acre per person, what’s the problem? The problem is that the extremely wasteful Western diet requires over 3 acres to feed just one person. If you passed the third grade, you can clearly understand the problem. We (the wealthiest 30%) are using three times more than our share of the land.
To compound the problem, more people in the developing world are choosing our wasteful diet-style every day. Not only that, we are losing a big chunk of that 8 billion acres every year to degradation and erosion — a chunk about the size of South Carolina. And let’s not forget that our world population continues to grow — adding almost 200,000 people every day — a number equal to a city the size of Grand Rapids, MI.
So, by now you may be thinking that you’ll just get all of your animal protein from the vast oceans of the world. Think again. Then consider the alarming facts in this “FISH” blog, much of which was covered in Chapter 4 of our book, “Running Roughshod.” FISH…the natural diet for humans? A “big picture” view
The Bottom Line. Even if you still believe that you “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy, the simple fact is that there will never be enough so that everyone can partake. This realization was part of my “blinding flash of the obvious” that I experienced in the spring of 2003. We’re eating the wrong food. Not only is is destroying our health, but it is grossly unsustainable (for many reasons) for very much longer. Now for the good news:
With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, we could easily feed everyone on far less than one-half of those 8 billion acres; and the other 4 or 5 billion acres could be returned to forests and meadows — where they could go to work repairing the environment over which humankind has been running roughshod for the past century.
Maybe if more of us thought of living in a small village where over 70% of the people was going hungry, we would find it easier to make better choices in what we eat. It really does take a village.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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