Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

Food Paradox - a Microeconomic Concept

Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

Food Paradox - a Microeconomic Concept

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. On its way of multi millennial evolution agriculture has undergone several stages all off them being organically implied in the natural ecosystem. Following the impressive development of the pesticide and fertilizer industries and the excessive utilization of chemical substances in cattle raising, after World War Two, agriculture has gained an ever increasing industrial trait and ecosystems have gradually been replaced by man-agro-ecosystems and the modern food system in the present. The impact of the over industrialized agriculture on the ecological balance has reached its critical point and more often point and more often than not overtook the normal man-nature relationship.

JEL Classification: Q01, Q02, Q18, Q57

Keywords: sustainable development, global commodity crises; agricultural policy; food policy; ecological economics, ecosystem services.


Things that led me to write this paper are some simple questions which I have asked myself: "Why are people hungry?"; "Why hundreds of people across the world, suffer and die of hunger? "; "Why, despite increased agricultural production, there are people who can not even secure their basic food?"

The answer was simple: too many people and insufficient food. It was exactly what Robert Malthus predicted: "an increased population faster than agricultural production; and that is why, despite technical progress, we have not enough food for everyone" (Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1976). And I got a simple solution: less people and more food. We noted with astonishment that at the solution proposed by me, there were also others thinking about it and that was basically the starting point for intensive type of agriculture and modern food system. By the end of the twentieth century it was considered one of the greatest achievements of humanity because it produced more food (more meat, more grains, fruits and vegetables), which was much cheaper, more varied, much safer, more convenient and had better quality than ever.

Despite our incredible productivity there are studies showing that about one from seven people is affected by "food insecurity". In places where people are no longer facing famine, populations have to struggle with less desirable effects of modern diet and obesity, heart disease and diabetes. According to studies, many of the methods that have created this abundance by intensive farming have deteriorated so much the production capacity of natural systems, that it is not known how we manage to feed the approximately 10 billion people who will populate the Earth and nobody knows for how long food production can be maintained at current levels.

Thus, even while we strive to understand why it is becoming increasingly difficult to guarantee food safety it's becoming more clear that this is just one of a growing number of problems to raise all several questions such as: What happens to our food?; How come our food system has overcome so much beyond what is reasonable?; How close are we to collapse?; What practical solutions could help us restore the balance of the ecosystem?


"Then life itself / Will have the shape of bread / Deep and simple / Immeasurable and pure " - Pablo Neruda, "Ode to bread", (1954).

As is apparent - the tendency of consumers that are from the rich Western' countries, is to focus on food system deficiencies. When this happens, blame is shared between: the food companies who are obsessed by profits, on the one hand, regulatory and governmental institutions that are manipulated or corrupted by the first, on the other hand. However this story ignores and often hides the true cause of these problems. The crisis is NOT the real problem. The crisis is more economical, because to really understand how our food system runs, we should look at it as an economic system. And, like any economic system it has winners and losers, it goes through instability and it is affected by the relationship between supply and demand. …

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