In 2000, the United Nations member states put the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger at the top of eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved within fifteen years. As Kanayo F. Nwanze writes in our Special Report: A World of Food, 795 million people nonetheless remain chronically undernourished—and challenges like the global population explosion and climate change will continue to plague efforts to feed the planet. In his essay “Sustaining Our Farmers,” Nwanze, president of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development, warns: “The rhetoric around these issues is becoming so familiar that we are in danger of ignoring the messages.” To achieve more progress, he argues, international and national policymakers must focus on economic transformation of rural areas—and empowering the smallholders who grow most of the world’s food.
There is an urgent need to address the food security challenges here at home, as Perrihan Al-Riffai writes in “How to Feed Egypt.” Despite overall economic growth in the 2000s, she says, the country’s rate of childhood stunting has been increasing. Richard Dobbs and James Manyika also report on nutrition in “The Obesity Crisis;” nearly 2.1 billion people in the world are overweight or obese, they write, and the problem is only getting worse.
How often do we reflect on the varied ways in which food shapes our world? In “Dining with Darius,” Rachel Laudan looks at the politics of cuisine from Cyrus the Great to Barack Obama. Andrew Lam examines food culture in “The Marvel of Bánh Mì,” a story of how street food created by the Vietnamese during the French colonial era has evolved into an international sandwich sensation.
To gain the French perspective on food for our special report, I traveled to Paris for an encounter with Alain Passard, regarded as the leading French chef in the world today; our discussion of modern cuisine and globalization is presented in The Cairo Review Interview. Ever wonder how a chef earns three Michelin stars? Keep reading to learn the secrets of Passard’s remarkable kitchen.