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One measure of the success of a community, a nation, indeed our world as we move from today’s population of 7 billion to 9 billion, even 11 billion by the end of this century, is the ability to feed our people. By that measure, we are only barely succeeding. For so many, simply having enough to eat is a daily and never-ending battle. Food fights are no longer simply a rambunctious exercise in a high school lunchroom. They mean survival—life or death. This is the issue we set out to explore in the fall issue of World Policy Journal—how to feed the world and how, at the same time, make food a joy as well as an obligation.
With the world’s population soaring past the 7 billion mark, a host of countries are finding it increasingly difficult to feed their people today, while laying the foundation for a future that promises to be even more crowded—and hungrier. Accordingly, we chose to ask our panel of global experts, weighing in from Germany to Burkina Faso, Lebanon to Laos, how their nation, their region, may be able to satisfy the needs of their future.
Modern agriculture is rife with inefficiencies and environmentally destructive practices. With the globalization of food production and the damaging effects of climate change, innovation in this field is necessary, now more than ever. Louis Albert de Broglie, known in his native France and around the world as the “Gardener Prince,” argues that by experimenting with permaculture, microfarming, and other sustainable techniques, agriculture can play a key role in creating a more productive global food system.
Most experts believe that the world is currently battling an obesity epidemic. In fact, the global average for obesity now stands at 13 percent. While many associate obesity with wealthy nations, such as Australia and Russia, poorer countries are hardly immune from its effects. World Policy Journal examines some of the globe’s fattest and thinnest nations across the socio-economic spectrum.
Meet René Redzepi, owner of Noma in Copenhagen, an extraordinary restaurant voted best in the world four times in the last five years. Equal parts chef and visionary, Redzepi was inspired to create the global organization MAD, devoted to spreading the religion of food and its meaning in Scandinavia and abroad. World Policy Journal interviews the award-winning chef about how he, as the food maestro, has orchestrated a new love affair between people and the food they consume.
In 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that 32 percent of food produced across the globe was ultimately lost or wasted. Food loss focuses on the processes of producing, storing, and processing, whereas food waste refers to food that is fit for human consumption, but gets thrown out or neglected on a consumer level. In developed countries, the majority of food wasted is at a market or consumer level. In developing countries, more food is lost due to inefficient systems of production, storage, and transportation. In our Map Room, we explore this phenomenon in greater detail.
In an increasingly globalized world, nations are ever more widely defining themselves by their culinary heritage. Former chef, now political scientist, Ronald Ranta examines the world through a “gastro-national” lens, where political differences arise in the form of cultural custody battles over a dish’s provenance. The food fights highlighted here stretch to some of the furthest corners of the international community, responding to disparate societal and economic pressures, but at their core, they share a common cause—the defense of national pride.
Flynn McGarry began cooking at the age of 10. Two years of immersion in the cookbooks of some of the world’s great chefs—Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, Grant Achatz of Alinea—was enough to inspire his own cooking style. His parents’ dinner table soon gave way to a supper club called Eureka in Studio City, where the complexity of his dishes became legend and his career was launched. World Policy Journal talks with McGarry, perhaps the world’s youngest professional chef, midway through his culinary tour of Europe.
Jason P. Rancatore paints a vivid picture of market day in the town of Bolgatanga, Ghana, from the early-morning sale of goats to the “Obama cookies” that have sprung up since the president’s 2009 visit. Describing the systems and rhythms at work in the market, Rancatore draws a parallel to development efforts, arguing that organizations and governments playing a role in Ghana’s growth must listen to its people and be attuned to the pulse of the country in order to adequately address issues extending far beyond food security.
Some 40,000 people, including delegates from 190 nations, will be gathering in Paris this December with the goal of achieving a new international agreement on climate change. Though consensus on how to protect the planet from cataclysmic changes is necessary, the subtext is even more powerful and immediate. How do we empower the planet to feed the billions who live on it today and the billions more who will need its resources in the future? World Policy Journal sits down with France’s Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, Ségolène Royal, to discuss the relationship between climate change and growing global food demands.
In this issue, we are delighted to welcome back Eliza Griswold, our poet in residence. An extraordinary talent and National Magazine Award winner, her unique vision of the world illuminates our every issue. In her poem “Sparrow's Feet,” Griswold captures the resilience of Syrian citizens who are victims of devastation in their country.
In January 2013, Sergei Filin, artistic director of Moscow’s revered Bolshoi Theater, had acid thrown in his face by attackers commissioned by a disgruntled male ballerina, Pavel Dmtrichenko. Nick Read, directing the HBO-produced documentary “Bolshoi Babylon,” examines the long saga of ego clashes and dysfunction that led to this bizarre event in the world’s most celebrated ensemble—and just as Russian President Vladimir Putin steps in to restructure the Bolshoi’s leadership.
Four years after the rebellion to end his rule, Bashar al-Assad remains the President of Syria, with support from a large part of the Syrian population. The influence of the Syrian civil war on strengthening the threat of the Islamic State and other militant groups has become an issue that requires a new approach in foreign policy and an eye to history if the region is to move toward a peaceful future. Jacques Myard, along with three other French lawmakers, met with Assad in Syria. Based on their controversial conversation, Myard proposes a new lens with which to view Syria’s actions and future.
In the midst of economic struggle and societal disorder, Italy finds itself vulnerable to foreign interests looking to take advantage of European markets. China’s emergence as Italy’s leading investor is probed by Francesco Galietti, a former advisor to the Italian Minister of Finance. He details China’s subtle entrance into Italian manufacturing and power companies, driving a wedge through the Italian political elite. He then argues this increasingly strong bond between the industrial powerhouse of Asia and Italy’s own role as a gateway to the Mediterranean signifies the creation of a new Silk Road, woven by soft power and a thirst for the sort of cultural cache Italy still produces in abundance.
Australia’s aboriginal population has a long history of discriminatory treatment by the national government. The most egregious recent example is the 2007 Intervention, which stripped indigenous communities of autonomous decision-making in the name of solving problems such as drug and alcohol abuse. Pauline Moullot reports on aboriginal communities’ efforts to address these issues on their own terms, as well as their fight for more equitable treatment in modern Australia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has left no stone unturned in his quest to control online media, going after independent news sources, bloggers, Russian social networking sites, and most recently international companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan argue that despite the Kremlin’s aggressive attempts to shut down opposition voices online, the lack of hierarchy and rapid pace of change on the Internet may ultimately undermine these efforts.
What defines a nation or a region—in terms of political, social, economic, or strategic unity and cooperation? In his Coda column, World Policy Journal editor and publisher David A. Andelman examines the link between language and regional integration, with a hypothetical look at a future official European language. He looks forward to the winter issue—highlighting Latin America’s potential for and failure to achieve any viable regional unity.
The Millennium Project:
A global collective intelligence system analyzing the future of the world—and you can participate!