Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Faith and the Global Food Crisis

Hunger. On a global scale, this problem looms large. For the first time, in 2009, the number of hungry people in the world hit 1 billion. Then in September 2010, the UN reported a decline in that number for the first time in 15 years. But it didn’t go away, not at all.

Now, as we look around the world at food riots and unrest about food security in many regions, the problem may be growing more tangible to us. To me. 

Why do we need so much information before we reach out to help on scales that would astound, that would witness Christ in a practical, compassionate way? (Not that we’re doing nothing.)

It wasn’t always my dream to use my writing and communications talents to work in the agricultural industry. But for 16 years, that’s where my work has been concentrated. I’ve learned a lot along the way. And here I am, perhaps to be a voice in my circle of friends and acquaintances.

Working for a farm marketing organization, I see and hear a lot of information about crops, supply and demand for commodities and food situations globally. But you need to understand, I am not a broker or trader. I have no agricultural or ag business degrees. I’m no expert. Much of what I read, I honestly don’t fully understand.

Commodity Issues
But here’s some information. First, the world faced a rice shortage in 2008, now wheat is following. Russia has experienced drought, a big part of the problem for wheat supplies. The Brazilian soybean crop is not expected to be great, either. 

The game begins of countries replacing one crop with another for feed and food uses. Food grade is a higher quality than feed grade, because standards for human consumption are higher, of course. So, not everything is swappable, ultimately.

Also, in the U.S., cattle production is dropping, but it seems poultry production is replacing that protein source, though Americans, especially, generally still want their beef. Me, too! To some extent, these things cycle. Still, can you see that a lot is happening?

Organic or conventional production?
Then there’s the natural food equation. Organic food is great for people who need it, and who need special food sources, because of allergies and sensitivities, and just a desire to support that type of production.

But, conventional farmers take excellent care of their livestock and land as well, with a deep sense of responsibility to respect the land and livestock. Besides, if they mess up their animals or land, they won’t make any money or have decent land or healthy livestock, anyway. Conventional grain production results in higher yields, better to meet worldwide demand.

Not everyone agrees on the depth of the problem, and many factors feed into hunger. Corrupt governments (huge issue), transportation difficulties, and overconsumption by wealthy countries, to name a few.

Even the demand for corn and soybeans for bio-energy sources adds into the equation. My dad always said he was a farmer to feed people, not to provide energy, but I sure don’t blame farmers for trying to earn a living, and help provide for our fuel needs. He doesn’t, either.
Photo Title: Starved Girl. Public domain photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Global Concerns
So, this hunger situation hasn’t gone away. Logically, these crop and livestock situations around the world matter for hungry children in Algeria, where food riots have happened this year, and they happened in places like Haiti and Mozambique back in 2008, too. 

Demonstrations happened in Oman in mid-January and have occurred in Yemen and Tunisia, and an Iowa grain analyst said after Egypt (The autocracy is not the only issue there.), Saudi Arabia could be next. China is a problem, with a per capita income of $7,400 per year. Poverty causes hunger, too. 

What is up with our world and the food crisis?

Is it hard for most of us in the U.S. to understand, because all we’re feeling is a pinch in the pocketbook? Not to downplay the problems for those of us who are truly needy here in the States.

Only God knows the future when it comes to this food crisis. And what role is judgment playing in this? I’ll leave that discussion for another day.

It is frightening, if we allow ourselves to forget Who is in control. The Bible says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Tim. 1:7 NLT

My dear family of Christ-followers, let's put the power, love and self-discipline we're given to work for good. Hopefully, our love and compassion are provoked. Jesus modeled such tenderness and mercy. We can follow His example with those same qualities, and add to them the good stewardship and generosity we’re called to live.

Q. So, what are we to do?
A. Help.

Here are a few ways to help:

The best part of helping through a church or Christian ministry is the possibility that people will so respect our help, that they will want to know our motivation for helping.

Q. What’s our motivation?
A. Jesus

Here’s another blog about earning a hearing of the gospel of Christ.

We can help, too, by praying. Specifically about issues detailed here, and about what we see in the news about hunger, food riots and related issues.  We can pray Scripture. We can pray for salvation. And certainly we help by praying for godly leadership worldwide, so that we can “lead peaceful and quiet lives.”

By helping the ministries mentioned in their efforts, we can help nursing mothers, young children and babies, teenagers, the elderly, young couples. Real people who are just trying to live. Each person we help, is a person who matters to God.

©Helene Bergren. All Rights Reserved.

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