Freerice.com

Having a dissertation day today and just came across this question on yahoo answers

“Is freerice.com legit?
I’ve been answering all these vocab questions on freerice.com to cure a little boredom and feed a few of the hungry but i was just wondering if really is a legitamite organization/website.”

Freerice.com angers me enough anyway, but questions like this really justify what I hate about it. Brief overview; you log in to play games on different topics such as english, maths and geography and with every correct answer advertisers provide cash to donate a grain of rice to hungry people. Thus, hungry people get fed and you get smarter. I understand the rational behind why people play the games on it, they waste some time online and get to feel good about themselves. They might even improve their english grammar or understanding of chemistry.

However, the whole concept of ‘playing games to feed hungry people’ makes me shudder. The fact its backed by the World Food Programme is even worse, this legitimises everything wrong about it. The ridiculously patronising language of the site; “play games and feed hungry people” to me instantly assumes that chronic malnutrion is solveable with a click of a button. The overall concept of transferring vast quantities of rice to starving children correctly highlights the unequal distribution of food, as opposed to an overall shortage, but massively simplifies the complexities of global food politics. The implications of CO2 emmisions, logistical challenges, dependancy and sustainability are ignored. Worse, there is no consideration of the choices of the poor.

“There are too many instances where food policy remains hung up on the idea of cheap grain” (Banerjee and Duflo, 2011, Poor Economics).

I understand that people are not going onto the site to explicitly boost their own egos, and some generally want to make a difference to help those suffering from malnutrion and undernourishment. However, I do not think that playing a trivia based quiz online is the way to do this. Particularly to “cure a little boredom and feed a few of the hungry.”

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