Food Insecurity Essay
1072 WordsMar 2nd, 20135 Pages
Nutrition is important for healthy life. Many people are still hungry around the world even though there is mass production of food. This is because of unhealthy food production. In today’s world we see many obese people because of high intake of high fat and cholesterol containing food. It is important to have a healthy diet/ nutritional intake for individuals to have good foundation for physical and mental health. Now a day’s healthy food is getting more expensive rather than unhealthy food. Poor people are forced to eat unhealthy food, while the rich can afford to eat whatever the please. Food insecurity is caused by individuals not having healthy food for their families due to their low income or political and…show more content…
Even in developed country like The United States of America food security is a major problem. In the article “Association of Household and Community Characteristics with Adult and Child Food Insecurity among Mexican-Origin Households in Colonias along the Texas-Mexico Border” author Sharkey et.al supports that over population of Mexicans, living in colonies along the Texas - Mexico border causes food insecurity. Because of the Overpopulation on the texas-mexico border there is low availability of healthy food, causing people to eat junk food which lacks of nutritional value, and has high amount of sugar, fat, cholesterol. Food insecurity causes health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and early mortality among young single mothers. According to author Christine A. Stevens young single mothers are affected by food insecurity in two ways “first, the stress of food insecurity can lead to compounding issues of depression for this mother, second, food choice.” Factors that assist these problems are socioeconomic status and the ability to obtain adequate nutrition. These young single mothers do not have enough money to give nutritional food to their families. With limited money they do not have a choice for nutritional food and according to Stevens are forced to buy “inexpensive, high fat, high carbohydrates food” (Stevens 163). In
The world population is predicted to reach 9 billion in 2050. Global food insecurity is becoming a pervasive issue that needs to be addressed. Having recently attended EWB’s National Conference and the University of Alberta’s Sustainability Summit, I’ve written this essay highlighting what I believe are some of the root causes of food insecurity and suggesting actions we might take to address them. Keep in mind that I wrote this essay for the application to the Youth Agriculture Conference and was limited to 1,500 words; and also that I have no training or expertise in economics, agriculture, or international development and rely on research done by others to support my claims. In particular I would like to reiterate that my observations about both Ghana and the Canadian North are based on my own experiences and I don’t claim that they are absolute truths. I have tried not to make or imply generalizations in this piece. Feel free to leave any thoughts or contentions in the comments.
Some might see food insecurity as a problem faced only by developing nations. As a Canadian I have seen first-hand that this is not true. Statistics from a survey conducted by Stats Canada in 2011 corroborate this, stating that 3.9 million Canadians live in food-insecure households. Furthermore, the Inuit Health Survey from 2008 indicates that Nunavut has the highest rate of food insecurity for any Indigenous population in a developed country. This essay will focus on food insecurity in Northern Canada, comparing it to my experiences in food systems in rural Ghana. The root causes of food insecurity are complex but might be simplified into the following trifecta of factors: lack of education, inaccessibility of food, and diversion of food resources away from human consumption. My proposed solutions address the problem of food insecurity from many angles, changing the behaviors of actors throughout the value chain from producers to consumers, with the goal of ensuring food security to sustain the growing global population.
The modern definition of food security constitutes consistent and reliable access to nutritionally balanced food. Initiatives such as Nutrition North Canada target the lack of nutrition education of Northern Indigenous populations. This educational programming should address the perception that food security is assessed based on consumption of calories without consideration for food quality. In order to maximize their agency, the content development and delivery of these educational workshops must be done by individuals in the North who have experienced food insecurity in some capacity. This mechanism of information dissemination also contributes to the sustainability of these initiatives.
Rural Ghanaian communities typically practice subsistence farming and don’t produce food in sufficient quantities to store. This makes them highly vulnerable to food shortages making their livelihoods extremely food insecure. Though agriculture extension agents (AEAs) are tasked with supporting rural farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, according to the Ghanaian Ministry for Food and Agriculture the majority of rural farmers are not using these techniques. Often, AEAs don’t have the time or transportation budget to visit all the communities in their district and the most isolated communities, who are typically those that would most benefit from AEA services, are neglected. Female farmers are often denied visits by the AEAs due to cultural gender segregation. Because cell phone technology is so prevalent even in rural Ghana, SMS messaging may be a medium through which AEAs can support a wide demographic of rural farmers, overcoming physical and cultural barriers. A text message containing concise and relevant information such as weather forecasts or planting advice supplementing occasional visits from AEAs may be more impactful in educating rural farmers. As generational English literacy rates increase throughout rural Ghana, this solution becomes more viable.
Another educational opportunity that may contribute to increased global food security is spreading awareness of the Fair Trade label. It is estimated that only 10% of tea produced as Fair Trade is sold as such because of the saturation of the market for these products. Because the Western demographic is most likely to have the disposable income to pay Fair Trade premiums, it is this market that should be expanded. As Canadians, we have the ability to vote with our dollar and can support global food security by buying Fair Trade and encouraging retailers to stock these products.
According to the Council of Canadian Academics, a major contributor to food inaccessibility in northern Canada is the unaffordability of nourishing food. The high cost of nutritious and fresh food is largely due to the barriers inherent in the transportation of perishable items to the North. Economics would dictate that the high cost is a barrier for certain demographics and as a result, the demand for the fresh food decreases as money is diverted to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. Grocery stores are susceptible to incurring losses as this expensive food spoils on the shelves, which they can only recover by further increasing the cost of these foods, perpetuating a vicious cycle. While food banks and children’s feeding programs are valuable in mitigating the ill-effects of undernourishment, they are neither sustainable, nor do they address the root causes of food insecurity. However, temporary government subsidies for fresh food would increase affordability and presumably demand, which would subsequently decrease food costs, and potentially eliminate the need for subsidies, making this a viable sustainable long-term solution that complements providing nutrition health promotion programming to Northern populations. Innovations in food preservation methods that maintain nutrition and appeal of food may address the transportation barriers experienced in the Canadian North. Alternatively, subsistence farming and the re-establishment of cultural food procurement practices would alleviate the population’s reliance on air and ground transportation of food sources that can be produced locally and re-establish a nutritionally balanced diet.
In Ghana, transportation and cost of food are also barriers to food security. The transportation of foods that are not produced in a household or community farm is hindered by poor road infrastructure and the physical isolation of rural communities from markets. As a result, foods that provide nutrients not found in locally grown crops are extremely expensive. Furthermore, there is little infrastructure for food preservation in rural areas, tying food accessibility and thus food price to the agricultural seasons. During the wet season the selling price of many crops plummets as the market is saturated and without means to preserve food, harvesting beyond what will be consumed by the household is not worthwhile. However, during the dry season, these same households will not be able to afford these foods, now scarce and costly. Accurate real-time information on market prices of food commodities made available to rural farmers through radio or SMS, might help them make better decisions when planting.
Some research has indicated that the quantity of food currently being produced is sufficient to feed the world’s population, yet food insecurity still exists as this food is diverted from human consumption. Typically food that is not consumed is sent to landfills. As a culture usually presented with a great variety of foods, Canadians generally hold negative perceptions of foods that don’t meet our aesthetic standards. This is evident at grocery stores at the end of the week when blemished vegetables lie neglected in the bottom of produce baskets. According to Stats Canada (2010) retail waste accounts for 11% of food waste in Canada, third to packaging (18%) and home (51%). The Value Chain Management Center postulates that major contributors to avoidable food waste include over-preparing food, food spoilage, and not consuming leftovers. At least two of these can be attributed to our cultural perceptions about food aesthetic and longevity. Along with practicing food preservation and intelligent consumerism, consumers need to shift their paradigm of food. One way to tackle this might be for retailers to decrease the cost of damaged food, incentivising their purchase and consumption while destigmatizing this cultural emphasis on aesthetic. In order to reduce or even eliminate waste at the retail level, blemished or unsold foods can be processed in-store and sold as a fresh product. This approach has been met with success in grocery stores in France that have begun to sell ‘ugly fruit’ juice.
Consumables are not always diverted to waste but can also be used as animal feed or for biofuels. A Canadian company Door to Door Organics claims that Canadians consume on average 50% more than the Canada Food Guide recommended 75 g/day of meat protein. With an estimated ¾ of agricultural land being used for raising livestock, reducing one’s consumption of animal protein has the potential to increase global food output by up to 50% according to Navin Ramankutty, a professor in Global Food Security and Sustainability at McGill. As Canadian citizens we have the freedom to advocate for social policy change that we would like to see. Advocating for the regulation of the production of biofuel may be a way to increase land dedicated to producing consumable crops.
It is estimated that in developing countries, 40% of food is waste occurs in production. This is by far the largest contributor to food diversion in Ghana. Incentivising Ghanaian businesses to invest in food preservation infrastructure for community farms may decrease food wastage and shortages. This investment is low-risk as their return on investment is non-perishable and there exists a market for preserved foods.
Though I have presented ways Canadians can address the issue of global food security such as buying and promoting Fair Trade, consuming less meat, and advocating for biofuel policy change I have neglected to discuss the environmental barriers to establishing food security, the urbanization that is needed to support a growing population but is claiming agricultural land, the culture of food production and processing and politics of policy changes and program implementation.