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  • Aryaan Duggal

Communism, Calories and Calamity: How Food Insecurity is a Governmental Issue

The United States is a country ranked number one for wealth, technological advancements, and military power; however, these statistics do not tell the entire story. Our country has a GDP of $23 trillion with a median salary of just over $54,000 , which is incredibly skewed due to the top 1% earners in America making about $570,000 a year, and an unprecedented amount of economic power exerted around the globe. The American Dream is a concept of unparalleled success for everyone moving to the United States. While this expressed the idealistic nature of the U.S., it is far from the truth. Succeeding here is becoming extremely difficult due to the wealth disparities present in current day American society, revealing those of the French bourgeoisie during the 11th century. While the “American Dream” is propagated far and wide, we have countless issues relating to wealth inequality in our own backyard. Of the 331 million citizens in the U.S., almost 39 million of them are faced with food insecurity. This means a staggering 10.18% of U.S. citizens face some sort of caloric shortage. Unfortunately, this issue is largely ignored by the federal government.

While also struggling with this issue domestically, the United States has played a huge role in food insecurity’s effects in other countries for years. Our governmental actions have determined the lives of millions of people worldwide since World War Two. After the United States’ rise to global supremacy, we have been able to exert our influence far across our own borders. We have been able to use our massive economy and military to do so. Primary examples of this have been economic sanctions against North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and Russia. In addition to this, countries that have been sanctioned by the U.S. have statistically higher percentages of food insecurity and poverty. This increase has led to a subsequent increase of starvation-induced symptoms including weight loss, weakened immune system, heart disease, etc. Sanctions and their intended or unintended effects have harmful effects on the populace in many ways that can directly affect the healthcare and wellbeing of the population in general.

American political measures, such as economic aid or sanctions, have always had a huge effect on the economy of various other countries. From the Cuban embargo to the various NATO economic aid stimulus packages, examples of this phenomenon stretch far through modern history. The Cuban invasion is a prime example of American destructive foreign policy and how it relates to food insecurity. A communist Cuba was perceived as a threat to the mainland United States; therefore, President Kennedy launched an invasion and subsequent blockade of the small island nation during the early 1960s. The physical blockade soon turned into an economic one; the Cuban economy was, and still is, starved of international trade. This lack of money and foreign goods locked the country into a spiraling food crisis that the government could not handle. U.S. farmers are barred from selling wheat to Cuba due to existing cold-war policy. This flawed American policy from the 1960s is still “causing famine” over “60 years later” (Oliver). Policy-makers have spent millions of dollars to prevent the overturning of this law instead of working to fix food insecurity in their own communities. The United States ignored our domestic issues regarding food insecurity and redirected resources away from the people in our country who need it most.

This form of thinking has predated the current decade, ranging back to the Cold War United States’ geopolitical strategy. During the Cold War, the United States government accelerated their military and intelligence agency spending immensely. Under the leadership of President Eisenhower and General McCarthy the U.S. was thrust into a “war on communism” in every fundamental way. We decommissioned many welfare systems in the United States and abroad under the excuse of “spreading communism”. Counterintuitive divisive ideologies such as these are the ones that have permanently stunted the development of a global food network. This global system was first theorized in the early 1920s and exhibited a system where the countries of the world would pool mutual resources, each country providing resources they had in abundance, and create a “caloric-fund” to use for the fight against hunger. This system would have been a revolutionary new aspect to add to a developing human civilization and healthcare network. Preventative steps could be taken by ensuring the right food would get to the people who need it most, preventing many healthcare issues before they had to be diagnosed.

It is a common misconception that the world can not produce enough food to feed its populus. This cannot be farther from the truth, as food insecurity is not a food shortage issue, but instead a government issue. The world produces 4 billion metric tons of food per year; however, around 1.3 billion metric tons goes to waste every year. This means 32.5% of all food produced on this planet, per year, goes to waste. The root cause of food insecurity is the leading governments of the world and any major long-term solutions must be conducted in conjunction with them. If we truly want to make progress, we have to change the foundations of how the U.S. has practiced global geopolitics for decades and use our power to unite the world, instead of building barriers between it. The United States is more than capable of taking on this role and must be the pioneering power to tackle this issue if we are to see any improvement. With simple mandatory food donation policies, relief of international sanctions, and an adapted funding system by the US department of agriculture the United States could be feeding millions more people per year.


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