By Baghael Kaur
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization about 805 million people, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment from 2012-2014. This despite the fact that the amount of food that is produced per person has increased substantially since the beginning of the 20th century. So, if lack of food is not the cause of hunger – what is? It seems that poverty – lack of money to purchase food, and/or lack of land to grow one’s own food – is the leading cause of hunger. In addition, the type of food that we’re eating has become many times more processed, leading to chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Recently, there was a call from Mexican farm workers to boycott the very brands that they produce food for due to low wages and the use of child labour. Finally, the use of chemical pesticides and widespread mono-cropping (the planting of large amounts of one type of crop) has lead to the death of bees, butterflies, the poisioning of water supplies, increased carcinogenic compounds in our food and ecosystem destruction. Amidst all of these factors – what potential exists for us to reclaim and remake a healthy food system – one which recognizes that access to food is a human right, and that it’s production need not compromise the dignity of the workers producing it, nor the natural environment that we have left?
- Grow your own food.
Whether you’re sprouting your own seeds on your counter-top, growing herbs on your balcony, putting tomatoes in your backyard, or working a community garden plot, you’re taking money out of a sick food system, eating fresh, healthy food and empowering yourself with the experience of growing you’re own food!
- Become a consumer activist.
Buy fair trade, organic and locally sourced foods whenever it’s financially feasible for you to do so. Fair trade foods (mainly coffee, sugar and chocolate) ensure that a fair, living wage has been paid to workers who are organized in a co-operative, and who also receive additional funds that they can use towards community needs as they determine. Certified Organic foods have been third party audited to ensure that they have not been produced with the use of chemical pesticides, and improve the health of the soil that they are grown in. Locally sourced foods are fresher, have travelled far less distances to reach your plate (and therefore don’t come with as hefty a carbon load), and ensure that your money supports the local economy.
- Support organizations that are re-creating the food system!
Organizations like Karmagrow, who take donated land and grow produce for those in need, and Seva Food Bank recognize that food is a human right and that access to it should recognize the inherent dignity of the people who need it. By supporting these organizations by volunteering, or donating money, you help to ensure that the food system becomes sustainable, just, and accessible to all.