New Internationalist

Editor’s Letter

Issue 267

THIS MONTH'S THEME

Hunger

FROM THIS MONTH'S EDITOR

We’re now seven months on from our Annual Editorial Meeting, our very own ‘AEM’, a time of chewing the cud over all the vital issues - there appeared to be several hundred thousand - we ought to cover in the NI.

I seem to recall that there were some irresistible mushroom sandwiches with a fierce amount of garlic in them that also got chewed, and it was in garlic-scented environs that this issue was first discussed.

Quite apart from worrying that my breath could have kept vampires at bay, I was a bit diffident about holding forth, being a recent addition to the NI team. I was also surprised by how retro I sounded, talking about hunger in the 1990s. It all seemed so basic, so broad and so complex.

Dinyar Godrej The group made generally positive noises, but we wondered whether there was anything left to say on the subject and whether readers didn’t already know it all.

The last time we devoted an issue of the magazine to hunger was 10 years ago. And though I felt quite strongly that it was time to deal with it again, I was unsure how relevant it would be to talk in terms of ‘hunger’ at all. We tend nowadays to see the problem as an inevitable consequence of the numerous political and economic forces that govern our lives.

But there is another way of looking at it. By making hunger the basic issue - not having enough to eat is probably as basic as you can get - one can see the other problems as expressions of this central failing of our societies, the failure to provide everyone with enough food.

The problem of hunger is, for me, a moral problem. I like my food and I don’t like the thought of hunger. Sometimes liking my food makes me feel bad about the hunger of others, and I like that even less. It’s actually quite a simple, selfish morality - one I know other people share. This was perhaps my ulterior motive for doing this issue: I needed to understand and place this disquiet by clarifying the arguments for myself as well.

Because every time I got into the arguments I seemed to be entering from a different door, even though I knew the direction in which I was heading. There are so many different ways of accounting for shortages of food and so many things we need to change - not least our perceptions - in order to ensure that everyone has enough to eat.

So when the discussion at our meeting seemed to be tailing off, I summoned up memories of school debates, overcame my fear of halitosis and weighed in with something passionate - I forget the exact words. It worked. Everyone said yes, we really need to cover hunger again: and here, seven months later, it is.

Dinyar Godrej's signature

Dinyar Godrej
for the New Internationalist Co-operative

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