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Aadi Sagar

Professor Jason Peters


March 12, 2018
English 133

Bigger Than My Body


“ಧನ#$ದಗ', (ೕ* +,ಯ ./0 ನನ121 ಕ45ದ6789 ಅನ1. ;2 <=>?ೕದ ಎಲBC ಇ4BE,

ಅವG ನನ1 ಹ5I(ಂದ ;2 ಉLMGವವ/0 (ೕNO6ೕ,”. Dhan'yavādagaḷu, nīvu koneya bārige nannannu

kalisiddakkāgi anna. Nānu biṭṭuhōda ellavū illive, avaru nanna hasivininda nānu uḷidiruvavarige

nīḍiddēne. When I heard these words come out of the little boys mouth coupled with the Peach

that he was handing me, I was as confused as you are right now. If only I could understand

Kannada (The local language of Karnataka, a state in India) well enough to talk to him, but alas,

I could only comprehend as little of it as he could understand English. The boy quickly shuffled

away, leaving me puzzled, and all of a sudden his class teacher walked up to me and asked “Did

you understand what Lakshman just told you?”. I’m sure you are curious to know what he told

me, but be patient, all will be revealed as you read on.

Through my essay, I hope to assertively bring out the importance of food security and

especially in lesser economically developed zones, via self-sufficient methods of cultivation. In

addition, I will be relating this to how it affects sociopolitical conditions in countries around the

world.

“Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, is the

condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to

BIGGER THAN MY BODY !1


sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an

active and healthy life.” 1 In the United States alone, Food insecurity is a serious public health

issue, with enduring social and health impacts. “In 2011, 14.9% of American households (17.9

million) experienced food insecurity, of which 5.7% reported very low food security.2 This

occurs due to poverty, immobility, and other factors that hinder one's ability to access fresh and

clean food. And this “Food insecurity is linked to chronic diseases in adults such as

hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes, depression and anxiety in adults, obesity among

women, poor maternal mental health status, and lower levels of academic achievement and

higher anxiety and aggression among children.”3

When I was in high-school, I wanted to help with this issue. The signs of food insecurity

and malnutrition were always evident in my community, and it was my desire to do something

about it before the situation got worse. This led to the creation of TheSeedShip, my attempt at

solving food-insecurity in a self-sufficient way at a micro level. I created an organization with

the help of some of my friends to go around to schools for underprivileged children and teach

them how they can grow their own plants from seeds, starting from the process of sowing, all the

way up to the fruiting period. We then showed these children how they could eat these fruits and

replant the seeds that they obtained from within them and continue the cycle. An example of this

was at the Windmills School for Migrant Workers’ Children, where we conducted a 2 year long

comprehensive program, growing Peach, Pees, and Cucumber plants until they were eatable.

1 “Food Security.” Ifpri.org, www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security.


2 &3Martin, et al. “A Novel Food Pantry Program:Food Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes: Food
Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 45, no. 5, 2013, pp.
569–575.

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This whole process amazed the children we were working with, and they were thrilled to show

their families what they were getting out of the work that they had put in, taking care of their

plants. This small scale project in turn created a cycle that has been carried on even now while I

am in college. Teachers from the school mail me constantly about how households now have that

one extra resource that they did not have before, and children are happy to be able to access such

fruits and vegetables that they may not have been able to obtain otherwise. This process not only

gives them food, but also a sense of responsibility and self-esteem from the process of growing

and taking care of each plant. However, to create a real large scale impact, larger organizations

like the United Nations would need to work hand-in-hand with countries directly, to try and

implement these ideas by spreading the education of self-sustainability.

The governing bodies of states, along with the United Nations have however already been

working to combat food insecurity. And one of the measures they have taken is the use of “Food

Pantries”. “Historically, pantries were created to provide emergency food in times of crisis;

however many households now rely on them long-term. Food pantry use is especially high

among low-income households, particularly black and Hispanic households, and those headed by

single mothers. Although food pantries have become widespread, there is a lack of research

documenting their ability to increase food security and self-sufficiency.”4 This further

strengthens my argument that in the long run we require a different solution to food insecurity,

one that I feel should be based on the idea of self-provisioning. If each person can grow their

own food and provide for themselves, then this difficulty would not exist. Sounds simple, doesn't

4Martin, et al. “A Novel Food Pantry Program:Food Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes: Food
Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 45, no. 5, 2013, pp.
569–575.

BIGGER THAN MY BODY !3


it? Then why is this not a reality? This is because these people don’t know the importance and

procedures of growing sustainably. As the famous proverb goes - Give a man a fish and you feed

him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. So, I believe that it is our

job to educate others on the reasons and methods to cultivating simple fruits and vegetables to

eat, in a manner that saves resources also.

In North Philadelphia, there have been some great efforts to informally grow food and

support this cause. “Since 2005, two community organizations have built and managed more

than a half-dozen farms that have yield more than 20,000 pounds of crop foods. Students

participating in hands-on educational activities have learned practical skills, including how to

create, build and sustain a socially responsible business.”5 It is clearly evident that planting seeds

and growing plants is very possible in any type of environment, we just need to learn more about

it and propagate this same knowledge to others. One example of innovation in this field is plant

breeding, that according to the March 19th issue of the food journal ““might offer an abundance

of affordable, tasty and nutritious foods for the growing world population.” Without modifying a

gene, plant breeding consists of two seeds put together, varying the genetics of a plant in order to

produce desired characteristics.”6 The possibilities with cultivation are endless, and they can

definitely play a major role in improving food security.

Along the way to finding a solution to this problem is where I met Lakshman, a 9 year old

boy who lived with 5 other siblings in a family that could barely support themselves, having to

5 Shamlin, Wilford. “Kids Plant Crop, Grow Healthy Foods.” Philadelphia Tribune, 2 Nov. 2014, p. 3A.
6“The Food Journal: Is Plant Breeding the Solution to Fight Hunger?” India Retail News, 17 Apr. 2013, pp. India
Retail News, April 17, 2013.

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take turns eating different meals. Like all the other children at his school, he was eager to see his

plant become a fruiting tree, and while he was a shy child, he mustered up the courage to come

and talk to me just as his fruits began to look ready to eat. This is when he handed me a Peach

and said the words that I began this essay with. - “Thank you brother for what you taught me,

here is everything I have left, I gave the rest to my family and the dogs that were on the street

because they were very hungry.” He handed me the last fruit on his tree without thinking twice,

never even getting the chance to taste it. His compassion and generosity showed me that when

even those who are struggling are ready to give up what they have to help others, then we (the

more fortunate) should be willing to join hands and help those in need. We can make more

people food secure, all we have to do is work together and educate. We need to realize that we

are more than individuals, we are a community that is ready to fight hunger. I have seen this

myself, for I am bigger than my body.

BIGGER THAN MY BODY !5


Works Cited

“Food Security.” Ifpri.org, www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security.

Jehlicka, Petr, Kostelecky, Tomas, & Smith, Joe. (2013). Food Self-Provisioning in Czechia:

Beyond Coping Strategy of the Poor--A Response to Alber and Kohler's "Informal Food

Production in the Enlarged European Union" (2008). Social Indicators Research, 111(1),

219-234.

Martin, et al. “A Novel Food Pantry Program:Food Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality

Outcomes: Food Security, Self-Sufficiency, and Diet-Quality Outcomes.” American

Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 45, no. 5, 2013, pp. 569–575.

Shamlin, Wilford. “Kids Plant Crop, Grow Healthy Foods.” Philadelphia Tribune, 2 Nov.

2014, p. 3A.

“The Food Journal: Is Plant Breeding the Solution to Fight Hunger?” India Retail News, 17 Apr.

2013, pp. India Retail News, April 17, 2013.

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