Food for Thought
In 5000 years of recorded history, nearly 500 major famines have been documented in various parts of the world. Even in the twenty-first century, about 1 million people starve to death worldwide every year. When one realizes how difficult it is to starve to death today, the magnitude of this tragedy becomes incomprehensible. The contrary view that almost 6 billion people are fed on the planet every day reminds us of the technological tour de force that is modern agriculture. Fewer than 1 in 6000 people starve to death each year in today's world. However, the true consequences of human starvation and malnutrition are far larger and more insidious than is the body count. These include epidemics of related diseases, lost productivity, and loss of tolerance to environmental stress, particularly to heat and cold.
The human impact of starvation has been an area of controversy among scholars, physicians, clerics, and politicians for hundreds of years. In 1798 the economist T. Robert Malthus (1766–1834) wrote in his famous “An Essay on the Principle of Population” that unchecked population growth would result in “gigantic inevitable famine” leading to the extinction of civilization. Within a few years, how