At Risk of Hunger

This month, volunteers came together to discuss various topics in food insecurity. It turns out, there’s a lot more we don’t know about it than we thought! Because one of the most important steps to finding sustainable solutions is to know the issue, we bring you 4 topics to help you get an upper hand on this global epidemic.

Global and Nationals Food Insecurity Statistics

By Daphny Budaz

After a five year declining trend, global food insecurity is on the rise. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 1 in 9 people (approximately 815 million people) are facing food insecurity.¹

In 2011-2012, around 1,098,900, or 8.4% of Canadian households were food insecure.² Yet, it is a fact that we produce enough food to feed the world’s population. The problem? Proper and equal distribution. (source)

1_Food-loss-food-waste-en_800x566

PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research shows a spread of food insecurity across Canada. (source).

food-insecurity-in-canada-2013-14
Yukon, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador opted out of food insecurity measurements in 2014.

The United Nations is confident that we can all work together to combat this global crisis. If you want to know more about how close we are to achieving Zero Hunger, the UN has a neat site to check out.

 

Food Insecurity in the World Market

By Freya H-T

Food insecurity is traditionally assessed via four pillars: availability, access, utilization, and stability. Today’s world hunger is a problem of access, rather than availability. In terms of caloric output, the world’s farmers could currently feed 122% of the global population.³

Today’s food system is increasingly globalized. The 2008 World Food crisis, driven by droughts and high oil prices in the US, saw wheat prices rise by 130% around the world.⁴ Wealthy countries are making “land grabs” in developing countries such as Africa, where they can buy cheap farmland from governments desperate for money. The hungry people in these countries must watch as the produce is shipped back to western countries.

Increasingly, peasants around the world are displaced by large-scale agribusinesses, which use cutting-edge fertiliser/GMO/irrigation technologies to produce bigger or faster yields. However, these corporations are often growing luxury crops such as tea, coffee, or tobacco, or biofuels, (ie. corn converted into ethanol), which prove more profitable than actual food crops. Thus, transnational corporations and their efficient technologies often do not contribute as much as we may think to the global food supply. Clearly, policies must be made to address and incentivize food production.

 

Food Waste

By Shayna MacTaggart

One of the contributing factors of food insecurity in the world is the large amount of food waste worldwide. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year, which equates to about one third of the total food produced in the world. Most of this food is wasted before it ever reaches the consumer.⁵

To combat this issue, there are many campaigns to reduce the amount of food wasted in the world. For example, Imperfect Produce is an organization in the U.S. that takes fruits and vegetables that do not fit the qualifications to be sold in a grocery store due to being misshapen or discoloured, and delivers them directly to customers’ doors for 30-50% less than grocery store prices.⁶

Though these efforts have saved thousands of pounds of food from going to landfill, they do not solve the worldwide scale problem. We need to fundamentally change how food is distributed, and its quality standards, to reduce the amount of food wasted before it reaches the consumer.

 

Food and Water Security

By Mariem Oloroso

Screenshot (5)
Water’s effects on food security and nutrition are manifested in numerous ways.

There is a tremendous amount of water that goes into the growth and production of the food that we eat, which means that changes in water security will inevitably have effects on food security. Similar to food security, water security can be made up of the following four dimensions: availability, stability, quality, and access.⁷

Today, agriculture is the largest use of the world’s freshwater resources, withdrawing up to 70% of our freshwater resources.  The use of water in agriculture includes irrigation, livestock watering and cleaning, and aquaculture.⁸

Climate and climate change are affecting all four dimensions of water security, which, in turn, affect food security. For example, areas that depend on rain-fed agriculture, or farming that is dependent on rainfall for water, can be severely impacted by droughts that result in crop failure and the death of livestock. Periods of drought are especially detrimental to the food security of lower-income and rural individuals. Areas that depend on subsistence farming tend to have higher incidences of hunger as farmers rely on their crops to feed their families. Additionally, when food crops fail, they tend to be replaced by more expensive food, which might be tough for people to get a hold of, especially if their income relies on successful crop production.⁷

The UN maintains that there is enough water to produce food for everyone, and, as we read earlier, there is enough food in the world to feed the global population. Following this, it is imperative that approaches and strategies meant to address food security also integrate water management and vice versa.⁹

The following is a short video on the water, energy, and food nexus, which is based on the idea that all three areas are intricately linked – what impacts one sector impacts the other two sectors:

 

Citations:

  1. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, & WHO. 2017. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017. Building resilience for peace and food security. Rome, FAO.
  2. Canada. Health Canada. Household food insecurity in Canada statistics and graphics (2011 to 2012). Health Canada. Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrition-science-research/food-security/household-food-security-statistics-2011-2012.html?wbdisable=true
  3. Shannon, K., Kim, B., McKenzie, S., & Lawrence, R. (2015). Food System Policy, Public Health, and Human Rights in the United States. Annual Review of Public Health, 36, 151-173. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  4. Shah, A. (2008, August 10). Global Food Crisis 2008. Retrieved April 09, 2018, from http://www.globalissues.org/article/758/global-food-crisis-2008
  5. Key facts on food loss and waste you should know! Retrieved April 10, 2018, from http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/
  6. Imperfect Produce: About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.imperfectproduce.com/p-3-about-us.html
  7. FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on 2018, April 11.
  8. HLPE, 2015. Water for food security and nutrition. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome 2015.
  9. UN-Water. Water, Food and Energy. Un-Water. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from http://www.unwater.org/water-facts/water-food-and-energy/.

12/04/2018
Blog Team Community Hour

By Shayna MacTaggart, Mariam Oloroso, Freya H-T, and Daphny Budaz

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