Get Stuffed 

Are we too late to the table?

Dinner’s on for some; off for many

We Canucks may be late to the table in more ways than one. I’m referring to the July 2 nd Live 8/Make Poverty History initiative.

Irish rocker Sir Bob Geldof announced no sooner than two weeks before the hallowed event that indeed there will be a Live 8 concert for Canada after all. Kind of like being asked to be a bridesmaid two days before the wedding.

The series of Live 8 concerts was hatched by Sir Bob – former Georgia Straight reporter and Boom Town Ratter who was obviously cast for a much grander destiny, including his seat on the African Commission – to raise awareness of poverty and the need for trade justice in Africa prior to G-8 leaders meeting July 6 to 8 in Gleneagles, Scotland (just in case you wanted to show up and bear witness). The general gist of Live 8: double aid to Africa; rich nations cancel African countries’ external debt (which G-8 nations have already done for some nations) and trade reform (right now Africa accounts for only two percent of world trade).

But we’re really late to the table because one of the noble ideas Geldof, I mean Sir Bob, espouses is one that Canada has never made good on, despite it being hatched some 35 years ago by one of our finer statesmen, Lester B. Pearson. The concept: rich nations double, that’s right, double their foreign aid by donating 0.7 per cent of their national wealth to help poorer nations. Sir Bob’s goal is to achieve this by 2015, some 45 years after the fact. Good idea. Late to the table.

So what’s all this doing in a food column? Sir Bob’s focus is poverty but I can think of no better indicator of that than hunger, malnourishment, undernourishment, famine, lack of food – call it what you will, and I know there are technical definitions of all these states – but it all comes down to not enough food on the table. If you even have a table.

If you check out the UN’s World Food Programme’s website you’ll find a Hungermap that shows the level of "undernourishment" in areas of the world. A morbid deep blood red indicates the worst-case scenarios, countries where 35 percent or more of the people are undernourished. About half of Africa is blood red (the other big red blob on the map is Afghanistan). Most of the rest of the African continent is deep gold, indicating "undernourishment" in the 20-34 percent range.

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