Go organic: Don't ignore the woes of the worldBy James Ashford
August 31, 2012
The price of corn and wheat have risen by almost 50 per cent in the international markets since June, triggered largely by severe drought is the USA.
It’s just a bit ironic given that the UK is experiencing the wettest summer in living memory.
For most of us living in Berkshire it will mean a small increase in the price of our weekly shop but beyond that we will hardly notice.
For the farmers of America the drought spells financial misery but for people in the poorest parts of the world it will bring real hardship and for some, starvation.
Water scientists are now warning of a real catastrophe caused by an ever-increasing population and a growing appetite for a western meat-rich diet in the emerging economies of China and India.
Agriculture accounts for around 70 per cent of the fresh water we use and it is a finite resource. Without enough water vegetable crops simply whither and fail and anyone who has tried gardening in a really hot dry year knows only too well what a battle it is to keep up with the unceasing demand.
Britain, by and large, has an extraordinarily benevolent climate. In spite of our northern latitude we don’t generally suffer extremes of hot or cold nor do we suffer hurricanes or monsoon.
Our supermarket shelves very rarely empty and we are more prone to obesity than starvation.
But we are part of a wider world and cannot be blind to what happens around us.
It has been suggested that we may have to eat less meat in the future. Protein from animals needs between five and 10 times the land and water per kilo as protein from vegetables. It may be that even those of us who are not vegetarian may have to get used to eating less meat.
Providing help for farmers in developing countries will also help. Simple irrigation systems and better husbandry of land and water will help growers around the world increase their yields.
But it is worth remembering that the single simplest way of reducing world hunger is to improve the education of women. As education rises, birth rates fall. Family health improves and people enjoy a better standard of living. And perhaps this is where we should focus our resources?