Why are people still starving?

The supply chain, too, is a futuristic marvel. You can walk into a store in most countries and buy fresh goods from all over the world. These supply chains even proved somewhat resistant to the chaos caused by the pandemic: while covid-19 lockdowns did lead to food shortages in some places, most of the empty shelves were the ones meant to hold toilet paper and cleaning products. Food supplies were more resilient than many expected.

But the mass industrialization of food and our ability to buy it has created an avalanche of unintended consequences. Cheap, bad calories have led to an obesity crisis that disproportionately affects the poor and disadvantaged. Intensive animal farming has increased greenhouse-­gas emissions, since meat has a much larger carbon footprint than beans or grains.

The environment has taken a beating, too. Booms in fertilizer and pesticide use have polluted land and waterways, and the easy availability of water…

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