Opinion: How food scarcity is hurting the Mississippi Delta

Posted on Oct 27 2017 - 7:59am by Woody Dobson

Have you ever been so hungry you would be willing to eat nearly anything? Thankfully, I’ve never had the opportunity to become that empty.

However, some United States citizens endure the hardships of food scarcity and somehow manage to live as minimalists while simultaneously living life. When food resources become limited, it should become an issue of growing concern, as the Mississippi Delta region is currently experiencing a shortage of consumable goods.

Southern food, a known cultural tradition in Mississippi, could be negatively affected if these food shortage circumstances are never addressed. Could the Southern culture surrounding food then be destroyed by its own inhabitants?

As the years go on, this seems increasingly probable. Food insecurity consumes Delta lowlands, as 1 in 5 households lives under the state poverty line, yet aid to food acquisition seems to be nowhere in sight.

Agriculturally, the Magnolia State thrives on its fertile land. The sediment deposits gathered from Mississippi’s river have induced cotton, soybean, cattle feed and corn growth in the Delta region. This breakdown of crop production is concerning since these crops are not primarily for human consumption (even corn is grown to feed livestock).

This is also strikingly different from the normal food production of other states, which rely on multiple crops to sustain themselves. As a matter of fact, Mississippi relies on 90 percent of its food from outside exports, which leaves many Delta residents in a world of food poverty. While state intervention in farm production is a hopeful solution, other issues limit the implementation of an initiative that could bring food security.

Consequently, food becomes inaccessible even by the simplest means because of limits on basic transportation. Without reliable transportation options, it’s almost impossible for people to buy or receive food, let alone cook for themselves. Additionally, if cars became available, the average drive to a local store is about 10 miles. These unfortunate constraints to Southern food culture, however, can be positively challenged.

State-led agricultural initiatives could provide the Mississippi Delta with a working foundation to satisfy its needs for food security. To further alleviate this predicament, the state could lead food assistance programs and food educational programs to teach about nutrition. Programs like these aid and prevent further destruction of Southern food culture and the lives of many Delta inhabitants.

Also, state-led initiatives for the agricultural region could lead to self-sustainability within the entire Mississippi Delta. As the historical region reaches the year 2018, hope is looming for the area by domestic governmental assistance. Unfortunately, without advocating the role of Southern culture to encourage popular support, past obstacles may get even worse.

Undermining food scarcity must be met with fierce support, as many Delta residents suffer culturally, and their daily means for consumption are threatened. While state-led initiatives develop to fight food scarcity, hopefully the current eradication of Southern food culture might die with it. It’s imperative that Mississippi consume as much aid possible to remove the damaging effects of food scarcity and envision a progressive growth from poverty.

Woody Dobson is a senior political science major from Tupelo.