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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is There Really Food Insecurity in the United States?

The media have been all over the recently released report by the US Department of Agriculture that 17.4 million households "had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources, about the same as in 2008." Since there are 114 million total households in the country, this amounts to 15 percent of households, or roughly one in seven--and this latter figure was the major headline. The report also noted that the number of households receiving food assistance increased from 3.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009. The Reuters news agency somehow managed to calculate this as having "nearly doubled" (come on, let's do the math!). In fact, there is essentially no food insecurity in the United States, at least not by UN Food and Agriculture Organization critera. Given the high caloric intake of the average American, not getting as much food as people want is not necessarily a sign of unhealthy deprivation. In many respects, that was actually the point of the USDA report, which celebrated the federal assistance programs that have kept hunger from the door of American households.

1 comment:

  1. Before reading this article I did not know that there are different food programs in the U.S. providing help for households that have “difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources”. The only issue I have heard about is that of eating too much of and the wrong types of food which leads to nutrition based diseases. Therefore the source from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is especially helpful in order to give some credible information.
    The economic crises does not lead to the fact that people are not eating enough food, but instead probably leads to a change of eating habits. Unfortunately, processed food is cheaper than non processed food. For one dollar a person can buy way more energy in forms of carbohydrates by purchasing soda instead of orange juice or by buying a processed burger instead of vegetables.
    In conclusion food assistance is absolutely necessary in order to provide healthy food for those who would otherwise be dependent on cheap, low quality food. The only long term solution to solve this problem is to make non processed food cheaper than processed food. Due to the power of the food industry, and especially the corn industry it will be a long way before non processed food overcomes processed food.