Monday, October 16th, 2017 is World Food Day, promoted by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N. as a worldwide day of “awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.” This broad range of themes covers the breadth of food security issues facing countries around the world. Although globally we produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet, that food is not equally available to everyone. About 800 million people, or one in nine, suffer from hunger, resulting in more hunger-related deaths every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS deaths combined. That’s attention-getting data but it’s especially shocking when it’s juxtaposed with this information: more than a quarter of the world’s population is OVERWEIGHT and one third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
As big as the gap may seem, the issues facing the “haves” and the “have-nots” are two sides of the same coin. Climate change, the disempowerment of small scale farmers and soil and water degradation put every single eater on the planet at risk. In developed nations huge farms that rely on chemicals and technology have created a system of waste and damaged ecosystems. We have access to vast amounts of unhealthy calories and it’s causing a diet-related health crisis. Elsewhere the loss of rural livelihoods and unstable food prices lead to poverty and social instability. Where do the experiences of the haves and have-nots collide? In the export of unhealthy diets to the developing world and the expanding ripple effects of instability and migration from countries mired in crisis, not to mention the damage done to the environment, plants and animals over which we all share stewardship.
This year’s FAO World Food Day theme is migration. What’s the link between food insecurity and migration?
More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War due to increased conflict and political instability. But hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change are other important factors contributing to the migration challenge.
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Large movements of people today are presenting complex challenges, which call for global action. Many migrants arrive in developing countries, creating tensions where resources are already scarce, but the majority, about 763 million, move within their own countries rather than abroad.
Three-quarters of the extreme poor base their livelihoods on agriculture or other rural activities. Creating conditions that allow rural people, especially youth, to stay at home when they feel it is safe to do so, and to have more resilient livelihoods, is a crucial component of any plan to tackle the migration challenge.
In honor of World Food Day, we invite you to consider the role of food production in making healthy food available to everyone, addressing climate change, creating a resilient food system and achieving the goal of #ZeroHunger by 2030. Here are a few things you can do now:
Get informed by reading the FAO’s briefing on the intersection of food security and migration HERE
How old will the kids in your life be in 2030? How wonderful it would be if those future teens and young adults really did get to see a world with zero hunger! Take a look at the FAO’s workbook for kids HERE for ways to talk about food insecurity, climate change and migration with children – headlines that we adults face everyday but might have trouble framing for the next generation.
Have an effect here at home by supporting small scale agriculture that minimizes environmental impact, promotes sustainable farming practices, brings fresh and healthy food to our communities and ensures a future for family farming in the U.S. If you’re up for a challenge, enter the Slow Food Eat Local Challenge that runs from October 16th through November 5th, 2017. Eat local, eat in season (we know you love to anyway!) and share your experience with others. If you need any extra motivation, Slow Food is giving away a trip to Italy for the 2018 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto for the best photo/video or recipe entry.
Don’t forget Morningside Park Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturdays from 9am to 4pm on 110th Street at Manhattan Avenue.