Elderly Somali refugee woman holds a high-energy biscuit ration Getty Images/Oli Scarff

Message of food insecurity needs to be sung loudly

Concern of lack of food trumps concern over how it’s produced.

“I love you; I don’t like your actions.”

That is how parents should react when their child makes some boneheaded move. You may not like the way they ruined your refrigerator’s ice maker by turning it into a margarita maker, but you still love the child. (You also might love their ingenuity, and wish that you had thought of it.)

I am reminded of that every time I hear a celebrity of some level going on some political or social rant that I do not necessarily side with. I enjoy your movies or you music, but could care less about what you think about our current president, the political climate as a whole or climate change.

Growing up I was a huge Beatles fan. As the music of my high school years was an entertainment desert, I reverted back a decade to the Fab Four. Then Paul McCartney and his wife at the time, Linda, started spewing their vegetarian agenda. I was torn; I hated the message, but I enjoyed the work of the messenger.

I had thought most of this mantra was of Linda’s doing, and since her passing McCartney has stuck pretty much with his music. The McCartney family’s Meat Free Monday campaign has recently partnered with a French director for a short film, One Day a Week, a film about the “devastating” impact of animal agriculture on climate change.

According to an article on RollingStone.com, McCartney discusses the massive amounts of greenhouse gasses animal agriculture produces and the increasingly unsustainable amounts of water, land and energy it requires. “There’s a simple but significant way to help protect the planet and all its inhabitants,” McCartney says. “And it starts with just one day a week. One day without eating animal products can have a huge impact in helping maintain that delicate balance that sustains us all.”

That sounds good … unless you are a livestock producer. As has been touted repeatedly, U.S. agricultural producers are doing a great job attempting to feed the world, and they are doing that with less. For example, U.S. pork producers use 78% less land, 41% less water and shrinking the carbon footprint by 35% compared to 50 years ago. Can we do better? I’m not sure. But if there’s a way, our producers will find it, and adopt it.

Another sour note McCartney hits is in the comment about helping “protect the planet and all its inhabitants.”

Brett Stuart, president of Global AgriTrends, presented some staggering, and sobering, stats during the James D. McKean Swine Disease Conference Thursday on the campus of The Iowa State University. Food producers are doing a great job of producing food, but infrastructure and political hurdles get in the way of getting that food into the mouths of babes. He says 815 people are food insecure, and more than 6,000 children perish everyday due to malnutrition.

6,000 children die. Every day. In a world of food abundance.

Let that sink in.

These are children from families who could care less if their food is GMO free, gluten-free, free-range or cage-free. These families are food-free. High-paid celebrities, all of us really, need to do a better job of getting behind the effort to get the food that we have into the hands, and stomachs, of those who need it.

Many of these issues are beyond the realm of what celebrities can do, other than using their pulpit to preach of the way they feel society should be. Our political leaders, worldwide, need to work out differences to pave the way to global food security.

Those of us in the swine industry know the importance of agriculture, but the industry takes a backseat on in the global political scene. President Donald Trump has set off on a trip to Asia, which has potential to be a large market for U.S. agriculture, but with all else going on in the world, agriculture may not even be up for discussion.

Of course, that may be good, depending on how you feel about the messenger.

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