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Thoughts from the HungerU Road

RSS By: HungerU Staff

The HungerU Tour is dedicated to connecting with college students and sharing the story of modern ag’s role in tackling world hunger. Here the HungerU Staff will provide updates and thoughts from the road.

It's all in the numbers ... and the way you look at it: West Virginia University

Sep 27, 2013

- By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew

West Virginia University, home of the Mountaineers. Fittingly enough too, the mountains of this state are not only beautiful, but they take up a good portion of the camera memory on my phone, as well as provide a very welcome view from my hotel room. Another thing I have come to find is that West Virginia is notorious for their narrow, winding roads.

I will admit, I was a little nervous driving our boat of a Suburban around the WV roads. However, the nerves were cancelled out by excitement as I turned the last curve to see we had made it to the beautiful campus of West Virginia University—the fourth stop of our tour. One thing you should know is that this stop did not disappoint. The HU crew was fortunate to speak with so many students who were eager to share their views and experiences revolving around the world's hunger crisis.

West Virginia 2

One of those students I was able to talk to was an animal science major, and he had a completely new outlook on how we could be going about fighting the hunger crisis. Now, believe me when I say that this Tour is just as much a learning experience for the HU Crew as it is for the students. This conversation I am about to share with you is a perfect example of how a student brought up an idea I would have never thought of.

He shared with me how he runs about 160 head of cattle back home, which is about 75 miles south of the university—too far to be able to go home during the week, which is something that frustrates him. He told me how he hates to be at school doing nothing, knowing his family is at home working their tails off to keep the farm going and keep food on the table. We went on to talk about his farm, his career goals and then onto his knowledge of the hunger crisis. It wasn't until I asked him what he thinks we should or could be doing about a solution or way to fight hunger that I was totally blown away. We talked about the amount of food wasted in some countries due to rough roads preventing them from transporting the crops to market, and the lack of technology keeping them from having a refrigerating system to keep food. His answer? Cattle. For the crops that can't be distributed before they rot? Feed them to the cows. He told me that every four pounds of food fed to the cattle would put two pounds on the hoof. So that food is no longer being wasted, but being fed to cows which, in turn, would feed the people.

When battled with the question on how they would keep the meat without a way to refrigerate it or freeze it, he came back with an even better idea. He began to ramble off numbers doing math in his head, and he almost lost me. He told me that one cow could feed his family of four for a year, or 365 days.

Also, that meat can keep for about three days before it goes bad. Meaning, and I am not exactly sure how he figured this out so quickly, that one cow could feed 485 people for three days. So the solution was really to just butcher a cow every three days, and at least 485 people would be with food and crops didn't go to waste due to lack of technology. He was mostly concerned with the fact that that solution didn't feed a huge amount of people, but it'd be at least 485 less hungry. I was mostly astounded. I am also going to admit that as fast as he rattled off those numbers, I wasn't sure how accurate he was.

However, when I did the math, I wasn't disappointed. One cow, feeding four people for 365 days would make that cow 1,460 servings. Using his numbers, one cow, feeding 485 people for three days, would make that cow 1,455. He was almost dead on.

All of this, in about three minutes. The way he shared his idea is what really got me. He was so confident, and so sure. It was almost a, "why didn't you think of that?" And why didn't I? It did seem simple. Why hadn't anyone thought of that? Are we putting too much thought into it? Or not enough? Maybe we think it needs to be more complicated than it is.

Whether this is a solution or not, I think he may be on to something. The solutions really can be that simple, we just need to care enough to think of them, first.

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