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close this bookBioconversion of Organic Residues for Rural Communities (UNU, 1979)
close this folderProduction of microbial protein foods on edible substrates, food by-products, and ligno-cellulosic wastes
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentContributions to the solution of nutritional problems
View the documentDevelopment of protein-rich vegetarian meat substitutes in the western world
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View the documentDiscussion summary


Hunger and Poverty in the World Today

Hunger and poverty go hand-in-hand in this world where vast millions must support their families on less than US$1 per day. The poor are generally vegetarians, consuming on the average a pound or pound and a half of cereal grains per person per day. They need nutritious, low-cost meat substitutes. As the population reaches 8,000 million in the 21st century, much of the world may be compelled to become vegetarians. There are already an estimated 10 million vegetarians, mainly young adults, in the United States. If vegetarian foods can be formulated with the flavour, texture, and nutritive value of meat, they will likely become acceptable as staples in the diet.

Protein-Calorie Malnutrition

Protein-calorie malnutrition is a serious problem in the developing world today. Insufficient protein and calories not only stunt physical growth but also retard brain growth and mental development. In addition, malnutrition also results in low resistance to infectious disease. This leads to frequent, disabling sickness and partly accounts for the high death rates and low productivity in the developing world (2,3).

Vitamin Deficiencies

Other forms of malnutrition are also widespread in the developing world, among them vitamin A deficiency leading to xerophthalmia and tragic blindness in children, thiamine deficiency resulting in beri-beri, including the rapidly fatal infantile beri-beri; niacin deficiency causing pellagra in some areas; vitamin D deficiency resulting in rickets; iron deficiency anemia; and iodine deficiency resulting in goiter. Vitamin C and riboflavin deficiencies are also found in the developing world.

No country can hope to sustain rapid economic development unless it is accompanied by, and preferably preceded by, adequate nutrition for its people. Malnourished people, perhaps with their potential mental development impaired, and highly susceptible to infectious disease, generally lack the vigour and high level of intelligence a nation needs to develop quickly. Unfortunately, the problem is further compounded by the lack of universal education in the developing world.