Infographic of the Day: How the Global Food Market Starves the Poor

How can 1 in 7 people be malnourished in the modern world? A beautifully illustrated video shows the causes.

Feed the World To understand the complexities of the international food market—and how traders in Chicago can cause Africans to starve—you could get a ph.D. in economics, or read a 400-page report from the World Bank. Or you watch this superb nine minute video, directed by Denis van Waerebeke.

Though ostensibly created for a science show in Paris for 12 year olds, it's actually probably waaaay over a kid's head. Just watch—it's excellent, and very well illustrated:

The video begins with a basic question: How is it that the first world has an oversupply of food, while 1 in 7 in the world go malnourished? Basically, farmers in developing countries have eschewed growing local food crops in favor of growing things like cotton for international export. For food, those countries instead import rice.

That can have disastrous effects. When cotton prices waver, trade revenues plunge, the economy sinks, and there's not enough money for food imports. Obviously, that's a bit of an oversimplification, but the basic story is real—-it's called food dependence.

The solutions will involve everyone, the world over. Those in the developing world will need to reignite local food chains. And everyone else will have to become smarter: By 2050, our world population will double. But it's hard to imagine that we'll be able to feed that many people if we keep on consuming like we do. Instead, we'll have to rely on more sustainable farming techniques that don't leave sterile land in their wake—and we'll have to eat more vegetables and less meat—because every pound of meat takes about 7 to 12 times the resources to produce as a pound of veggies.

Still hungry for more infographics videos? Check out the The Crisis of Credit, which illustrates the banking and debt mess that caused the Great Recession.

[Via Infosthetics]

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7 Comments

  • Jeroen Serre

    Nice Vid. Interesting to see how data is visualized. Very catchy.
    With regards to the topic- One of the most important challenges we face in our time. How to feed the world and share the resources in a proper manner? It shows the need for a strategic resource management system. Wasting the abundance of food we still have in some places is so 20th century, isn't it?

  • Robert

    this proves and or shows nothing.
    Bob wants bacon.  farmers in northern countries have actual tillable land.
    US food production per farmer has increased almost at an exponential rate since Industrial Age began.
    .....
    maybe if we stopped feeding them, there would only be enough left to self sustain. (that's just devils advocate)

  • John Lewis sales

    We need to control the population i believe that the next war in the
    world is going to be water. plus we need to find organic ways of
    producing more crops the inorganic ways of producing crop increase the
    risk of cancer what is natural will always stay natural

  • John Lewis sales

    We need to control the population i believe that the next war in the world is going to be water. plus we need to find organic ways of producing more crops the inorganic ways of producing crop increase the risk of cancer what is natural will always stay natural

  • Bill Williams

    This video is awesome, though it completely misses a vital element of the solution - population control! In the U.S., we are a huge contributor to the problem, not just because of our eating habits (and economic policies), but because religious groups actively oppose the teaching and use of birth control in third world countries.

    Many of our "moral" religious institutions destine third world countries to unimaginable suffering. This is both immoral and unjust.

  • Jacky Chain

    So true! I have my 4th grade daughter read me her homework assignments and she always catches her mistakes.

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