Food Insecurity: At Home and Abroad

Tatum Taylor, Pulitzer Center

Conventional food may appear to cost several times less than organically grown meat and produce, but what is the true price of inexpensive food for our health and the environment? Bryan Walsh looks at the hidden costs of the American diet in "Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food," published August 21 on

The cheap prices of corn and meat have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the United States, where the nearly 1,200 calories of a typical fast-food meal - a burger, fries, and a soda - cost a mere $5. Meanwhile, the food industry's unsustainable practices are degrading animal life and contaminating the environment.

Walsh suggests the solutions of hiring more farmers to reverse the over-industrialization of food production, and raising public consciousness of the benefits of buying organic food. For now, the harmful impact of the American diet remains a concern.

Recent reports from the Pulitzer Center show that countries around the world are grappling with their own respective food insecurity problems.

Stephanie Guyer-Stevens reports from Vietname, where despite the country's fast emergence after the Vietnam War as the second largest producer of rice in the world, one out of every seven people goes hungry for lack of rice.

662Sharon Schmickle reports on a menacing fungal disease that has attacked Kenya's wheat fields and spread beyond Africa, putting one of the world's principal food crops at risk.

David Hecht finds that Nigeria has enough fertile land to feed itself and much of the region, yet it is on the brink of a food catastrophe.

In Tajikistan, Carolyn Drake and Ilan Greenberg document food shortages and other consequences of the global financial crisis and government mismanagement.

Samuel Loewenberg travels to Guatemala, where chronic malnutrition affects half of the country's children, with rates as high as 90% in some regions.

You can find the Pulitzer Center's reporting on these and other related issues featured at our interactive Pulitzer Gateway on Food Insecurity.

In September, we will launch our Food Insecurity Global Gateway program. Fred de Sam Lazaro and Sharon Schmickle, two journalists who have been contributing to the Food Insecurity web portal, will visit high schools and colleges across the nation to engage face-to-face with students and educators on the issues and on the reporting.