The Hunger for Democracy: A Global Crisis of Food and Freedom

As I reflect on the recent NEXUS Global Summit, I am struck by the profound interconnectedness of our world’s challenges today. The escalating wars, growing food insecurity, looming U.S. elections, and global erosion of democracy are not isolated issues but symptoms of a deeper malaise in our social fabric.

We stand at a critical juncture where the very foundations of human security — access to food, democratic freedoms, peace — are under threat. The global food crisis is not merely about empty stomachs but about emptying hope, dignity, and human potential. When we speak of food security, we are addressing the fundamental building blocks of societal stability and individual liberty.

In this context, I’m reminded of Carlo Petrini’s powerful words: “There is food for everyone on this planet, but not everyone eats.” This simple yet profound statement encapsulates the heart of our global crisis — one of distribution, equity, and interconnectedness rather than scarcity. Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, has long championed the concept of “integral ecology,” a vision he shares with Pope Francis and one that deeply resonates with our work in Pollica.

Integral ecology, as articulated by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’, recognizes the deep interconnections between environmental, economic, social, and cultural systems. It calls for a holistic approach to addressing global challenges, one that aligns closely with the work we’re doing in Pollica and the wisdom we can glean from Indigenous communities.

The numbers are staggering. According to the World Food Programme, up to 783 million people faced hunger in 2022. This is not just a statistic — it represents millions of human stories of suffering, lost opportunities, and shattered dreams. When we fail to secure food for all, we fail to secure the very essence of our humanity.

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