One nation underfed. Really? Many of us don't think of the U.S. as the land of the underfed. In this era of the expanding waistlines, we hear far more concern about obesity than we do about hunger. But the two are more closely connected that many of us realize.
A new documentary, A Place at the Table, peels back the curtain on the problem of food insecurity, weaving the stories of low-income Americans who struggle to put healthy food on the table, despite the fact that they have jobs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about about 50 million Americans fall into this category of "food insecure" — meaning they don't always have the resources to buy the food they need. This includes nearly 17 million children in the U.S.
The film includes the voices of hunger and nutrition experts, as well as advocates who criticize federal farm subsidies of crops such as wheat and corn. These crops supply the bulk of our nation's processed foods, which tend to be calorie dense, and nutrient poor. Food policy expert Marion Nestle points out there are no subsidies for fruits and vegetables — one reason, perhaps, that they're so much more expensive. Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, weighs in, too.
But as producer Lori Silverbush (married to chef Tom Colicchio, who appears in the film) pointed out during the after-screening discussion, subsidies are just one part of a complex story. The bottom line, according to hunger advocate Billy Shore of Share Our Strength: "Childhood hunger in this nation is a solvable problem." Shore says we have enough food and good nutrition programs.
Via Peter C. Newton-Evans