Food Glorious Food: Security or Sovereignty?


Food – we all need it, but how much and of what? When was the last time you were hungry? Have you missed a meal for a diet or your religion? Do you eat your five fruit and veg a day? In response to these questions, I feel privileged as I have a varied diet and I enjoyed lots of different types of foods. I love experimenting with new flavours and textures. I am able to eat fresh fruit and veg and even sometimes stuff I have grown myself. Therefore, I have food security. No, I don’t grew all my own food. I don’t have the energy, space or time to provide for myself and my family.

In the 21st Century, the majority of people do not have food security. Even people who have access to land, sometimes the land does not provide enough or a varied enough diet. These people can suffer from under nutrition (i.e. not enough calories to give them enough fuel to grow as children or do the work they need to do as adults) or malnutrition (i.e. not getting certain nutrients e.g. not enough Vitamin C from fruit and vegetables). Normally, food aid will start and so starvation has been reduced. However, there are still incidence of starvation. This is when there is conflict or natural disasters and it is impossible to get food to people. Are the cases of natural disaster going to increase? Hurricanes, floods, tornados these are becoming a regular occurrence. Do you feel secure in your availability of food?

I am concerned that we have gone soft. We expect supermarkets to be fully stocked, and if not we will complain to the manager. Our food is kept in fridge and freezers for our convenience. We still waste large amounts of food that contributes to methane (a greenhouse gas) as the food rots. Some people such as Raj Patel are starting to talk about food sovereignty. This idea originated in Cuba, where socialists had controlled the agrarian economy. However, as capitalist ideas have creped in over the last couple of decades, there has been an increased desire to own land. The compromise was to allow farmers to have tenure. This allowed farmers to use the land and use the produce for themselves or sell crops at market. However, if the land was not used then the state took the land away and gave it to another farmer. Is this fair?

I think ‘yes’. Use it or lose it…..our natural resources are being depleted and people should be using resources in line with the environment and ecosystems as well as trying to meet the needs of humans. My concern is that we are going to get to a stage where we will not be able to meet the needs of both. What do you think?

How crops are viewed has changed so much. Recently the World Development Movement (WDM) had a campaign to challenge the structure of commodity prices. This highlighted how financial institutions gambled with the price of commodities at the cost of rural farmers who are living on the margins. Is this fair?

New approaches are being suggested. These are ideas like urban gardens, incredible edible, and closed loop systems (e.g. restaurants sending scraps to pig and chicken farmers and then buying the produce). This last idea recognises that uneaten food in a restaurant is NOT waste, but a resource to produce another meal. This to me is amazing and we should be creating laws and policies that enable these types of closed loop systems.

When I started writing this blog, I discussed the idea of fairness. It is imperative for me. At this point in our history, there is NOT fairness in our food….this is NEEDED for survival. Why can’t we act more co-operatively?