Food Abounds for the Poor
People don’t starve because of a lack of resources. They suffer because of bad ideas and wicked rulers.
Solomon, the wisest king of all, had a lot to say about poverty. One of his proverbs says, “The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice” (Proverbs 13:23). Here are some of his other proverbs about poverty. Hunger is not the result of a lack of resources, but a lack of character (slothfulness), a lack of truth (mythology and bad beliefs), and a lack of justice (wicked leaders). Recent news articles from scientific discoveries reinforce his maxims, but sometimes you have to think outside the box of natural inclinations.
Could duckweed feed the world? (Phys.org). Duckweed: it’s the ugly duckling of aquatic plants, covering water bodies like slime. Ducks slurp it up. Good for them; may they live long and prosper. Actually, duckweed could feed the world, which is approaching a population of 9 billion people, says Pamela McElwee, a human ecology professor at Rutgers U.
The duckweed family includes 37 species from locales all over the world. They’re tiny aquatic plants that float on water, they’re easy to harvest and they can grow on wastewater. Some strains have very high protein levels—up to 30 or 40 percent by dry weight. As such, duckweed is more nutritious than salad alone, which has good fiber content and vitamins but not a lot of protein. Some duckweed strains provide nutritional benefits, while others are used in traditional folk medicine. As its name implies, duckweed is eaten by ducks—as well as other waterfowl and animals—and behaves much like a weed: it multiplies rapidly, especially on water rich with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate.
Like we reported about Moringa, the “miracle tree” filled with nutrients and benefits that grows where it is needed (11 April 2017), duckweed is easily found around the world. It may not look appetizing, but with a little ingenuity it could be used to add its nutritional benefits to a wide variety of tasty foods. Poor farmers could sell this easy-to-grow and reaily-available plant for income. Who would have thought this “weed” could help solve world hunger? It needs a new name, like “miracle salad” or something.
Maggots as recyclers and protein sources (Texas A&M U, via Phys.org). Mention maggots and the “ick factor” skyrockets. But entomologists know better; insects and their larvae (maggots) are loaded with nutrition. Jeff Tomberlin, Ph.D., professor in the department of entomology at Texas A&M, sees a gold mine in the larvae of black soldier flies. One is for recycling (a big concern today), and the other in nutrition.
At the end of the 14-day cycle, the tower of larvae is dried. These dried larvae become feed for animals that humans then consume. The most common example is as a protein source for chickens.
The larvae can also be processed to isolate the protein, which can then become part of a feed for livestock, poultry and fish. The maggot waste can also be used as compost for landscaping. Essentially, it’s the natural life-cycle power of the black soldier fly but harnessed by humans.
Tomberlin sees a zero-waste solution to many problems in these maggots. They recycle waste while they are alive, then they become feed for livestock. You don’t have to eat the maggots yourself. It’s like the man who boasts of his new vegetarian lifestyle. He feeds vegetables to cows, then eats steak.
In a pinch, you could eat maggots to survive. And like old mountain man Hugh Glass found, maggots can heal wounds. He leaned on the maggots on rotten wood after a grizzly bear mauled him. It just requires a change in attitude to see value in things we learned to despise.
Other Abundant Resources
Over the years, we have reported other “acres of diamonds” in natural resources that could lift people out of poverty.
- Edible plants: legumes, lupines, roses, purslane, dandelions and many other species readily available from the ground.
- Insects: Many insects are nutritious. Locust swarms might be a plague, but also a gift of protein from the skies.
- Water: Drinking water can be captured from the air in desert environments with nets designed like spider webs.
- Water: Sea water, the most abundant molecule on Earth, is naturally desalinated in clouds and rain.
- Water: Most areas of the world have groundwater. With some digging, it can be retrieved.
Note: Please don’t use these suggestions to run out and gobble down weeds in the garden. Some plants and insects are toxic. Some plants have been sprayed with insecticide. Do your homework, and know before you eat.
Bad Ideas Contribute to Poverty
‘It’s okay to be poor’: Why fighting poverty remains challenging in Indonesia (The Conversation). Wasisto Raharjo Jati, an Indonesian scientist, discusses causes of poverty in his part of the world. Despite government handouts, many people never escape the poverty trap. Part of the reason, he found, is because of fatalistic attitudes that teach people that poverty is their fate. These ideas come from negative ideas about God:
We provided questionnaires to 1,198 targeted participants and conducted in-depth interviews with 20 households.
Our research found people’s fatalistic attitude had prevented them from being lifted out of poverty. Most of our respondents believed being poor was God’s fate, and there was nothing they could do. This attitude is believed to come from a Javanese philosophy of acceptance called “nrimo”.
We also found this attitude had led to self-denial. Believing that being in poverty was God-given, most of our respondents claimed they were not really poor as they always found God’s help via social aids and family support.
This self-denial creates a problem for government efforts to reduce poverty in the region due to difficulties in identifying poor people who don’t want to admit they are poor.
Governments need to understand this theological contribution to poverty, Jati says, in order to be more effective. And in many of the poorest countries on Earth, like Haiti, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Burundi, the problem is not lack of resources, but corruption among government leaders, who live like princes while their subjects perish.
Contrast the fatalistic view of eastern religions with the Judeo-Christian ethic, coming from the Bible. It teaches that people bear some responsibility for their status. The Bible presents diligence as a virtue, and slothfulness as a vice. From Moses to Solomon to Paul, the Bible emphasizes the value of work: “If a man will not work,” Paul taught, “neither should he eat.” Solomon taught that hunger urges a man on to work harder. Sure, work may be more sweaty than it was in the Garden, but a Biblical anthropology encourages hard work so that one can have more than enough, in order to help those in need. What if the Good Samaritan had no money, medicine or food with him? He would have commiserated with the man attacked by thieves, and been unable to help. It is God who gives people the ability to get wealth, and provides for the needs of us all through abundant resources, if we can just recognize them and apply our minds to utilize them wisely and sustainably.