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Full Planet, Empty Plates: Tackling the World’s Food Security Problem

by Stephanie Phelan
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The world’s food security problem is becoming increasingly alarming, and people are searching for answers on how to ensure everyone is fed. Full Planet, Empty Plates is written by Lester R. Brown, an inspiring novelist who has authored and co-authored over 50 books in more than 40 languages. Brown is an environmental analyst, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and former president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. 

Lester Brown – a pioneer environmentalist

Among Brown’s many books on food security, renewable energy, and the future of transition, Full Planet, Empty Plates, and Outgrowing the Earth are two of my favorites. As a sustainability professional, I was taught in school the importance of education and technology. We have informational material at our fingertips, that help open our eyes and expand our mindset. Many people have noticed the utilitarian yet hedonistic practices used in the past are not what’s going to save our future. And this societal perception has been changed through the publication of books, blogs, films, and podcasts. 


Is Food the “weak link”?

In 2020, I do believe more people are considering sustainability practices and using everyday measures to secure their food, water and energy. Yet overall, the world food situation is still deteriorating. Grain stocks have dropped to a dangerously low level. The World Food Price Index has doubled in one decade. The ranks of the hungry are expanding; political unrest is spreading. At the same time, water shortages and heatwaves are making it more difficult for farmers to keep pace with demand. As grain-exporting countries ban exports to keep their food prices down, importing countries are panicking. In response, they are buying large tracts of land in other countries to grow food for themselves. Is this all we have learned in society – is to fend for ourselves?

Learning from past civilizations

Lester Brown, one of the leading environmentalists of our time, explains why world food supplies are tightening and tells what we need to do about it. The ability to provide enough food for our growing population is at stake. And it depends not only on efforts within agriculture but efforts within consumer behavior and policy changes. We can work to stabilize climate change, but a worldwide effort is needed to raise water productivity, land transportation systems, and population policies to seek a humane balance between population and food. 

Brown’s books are always very inspiring to me and he expresses a great sense of urgency. For some it may be overly ambitious. For others, they will agree that this is exactly what we need.  TexasRealFood has many resources for you to utilize, so you can shop locally and resourcefully. Check out our “Food For Thought” section.  The Lone Star Plate podcast can also help you keep up to date on local Texas news and important topics. 

Get your own copy of Full Planet, Empty Plates here.

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