"Land is the new gold; food is the new oil." —Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Over the next fifty years, the world will have to produce more food than in the previous 10,000 years, as the global population surges to more than nine billion.
Traveling from the US to India, France, Belgium, Niger and Ethiopia, HUNGER FOR SALE looks at some of the key challenges in producing food for the future—and in feeding the planet's current population. With chronic and acute malnutrition already at crisis levels in some countries, will we be able to feed ourselves?
The dozens of women sifting through peanuts at a facility in Niger run by the French food company Nutriset are on the frontlines of fighting malnutrition. The locally grown peanuts are destined to form the base for packets of Plumpy'Nut, a "ready-to-use therapeutic food" designed to treat acute malnutrition. Effective and easy to transport, the product has revolutionized emergency food aid.
But, as HUNGER FOR SALE points out, most malnutrition is chronic—a result of the disconnect between food and agricultural policies. India provides a striking example: grain exports are booming, but eight million of the country's children are undernourished. Feeding people emergency packaged rations may provide short-term results, but it's hardly a way to ensure food security. (New York University sociologist Marion Nestle notes that there is no money to be made in teaching people how to better grow their own food to feed their families.)
And nutritionist Anne-Dominique Israel, of the French anti-hunger NGO Action contre la faim, worries that the infatuation with high-fat therapeutic foods could lead to unforeseen public health effects—particularly obesity among those who were formerly suffering malnutrition.
Despite these fears, global corporations are, increasingly, eyeing African and Asian markets as the next food frontier. While Pepsico structures the entire supply chain of its own therapeutic food, investment bankers are buying up agricultural land in Africa so they can lock up food production and water rights, and Silicon Valley startups like Hampton Creek eye futuristic solutions like plant-based "eggs".
Meanwhile, activists such as Vandana Shiva and farmers like those we meet at an agricultural co-operative in Niger, argue that the best way to feed the world is to encourage the kinds of diverse, small-scale production that already supplies more than 75 percent of our food needs.
As corporations rush in to stake their claims in the coming food gold rush, HUNGER FOR SALE asks whether depending on private industry, increasingly technological solutions and market forces to feed the world is really the most effective approach.
"An excellent introductory discussion of poverty and economics, skeptically noting that products alone cannot solve the world’s hunger crisis in the long-term... Highly Recommended" —Educational Media Reviews Online
Best Documentary, 2014 Bourges Environmental Film Festival
"Hunger for Sale is an eye-opener for an audience concerned about the weak points of existing arrangement in producing more food for humankind, and alternative solutions in response to the food-associated crisis (e.g., malnutrition) in the foreseeable future. —Science Books & Films