By Ellen Gustafson, Cofounder of FEED and Food Tank, on why it's increasingly difficult to find and eat nutritious food, and what can be done about it.
The implausible truth: roughly one billion people in the world are hungry and more than one billion are overweight. Far from complete opposites, hunger and obesity are in fact different manifestations of the same problem: It's increasingly difficult to find and eat nutritious food. Solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems- from hunger to healthcare costs, from corruption to cancer, from terrorism to type 2 diabetes-are right under our noses, literally embedded in the food we put on our plates. While it's no surprise that the iconic American meal of hamburger, fries, soda, and processed treats-now exported and consumed around the globe -has helped cause the obesity crisis in the US and abroad, the corporate and agricultural practices behind the production of those fast foods also hurt the environment and contributed to terrorism, rising health care costs, and global poverty.
By examining the global industrial food system using the deceptively simple template of a classic American dinner, WE THE EATERS: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World (Rodale Books; ISBN: 978-1-62336-053-5; May 20, 2014; $24.99) not only outlines the root causes of this bizarre and troubling dichotomy but also provides a blueprint of actionable solutions—solutions that could start with changing out just a single item on your plate. From your burger to your soda, Ellen Gustafson- a young social entrepreneur, foreign policy maven, and food policy advocate- unpacks how even the hyperlocal can cause worldwide ripples. For instance: American agricultural policy promoting corn and soybeans in beef farming means we feed more to cows than to hungry people. This is compounded by the environmental cost of factory livestock farming, rising obesity rates, and the false economics of unhealthfully high meat consumption.
The answer? Eat a hamburger—just eat it less often and make it a sustainably raised, grass-fed one. Gustafson delivers a wake-up call that will inspire even the most passive reader to take action. We can love our food and our country while being better stewards of our system and our health. WE THE EATERS is nothing short of a manifesto: If we change dinner, we really can change the world.
About the Author:
Ellen Gustafson is a sustainable food systems activist and social entrepreneur. She lectures around the world on global food issues and is the cofounder of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank and founder of the Apron Project. The cofounder of FEED Projects and the FEED Foundation, which have provided more than 60 million school meals to children in need, Gustafson has also worked at the U.N. World Food Program, ABC News, and the Council on Foreign Relations.