With a world population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the question of whether there will be enough food to go around is a challenging proposition. Food security touches our everyday lives in several ways. It’s important that food is readily available through sustainable distribution channels, and that we have access to food through affordable means, as well as know how to utilize food nutrients best for our health. Uncertainty about food is one of our greatest fears. Over the last century, supermarkets have become our main source of food supply. However, it is a business model that is ripe for failure, as its scale is not sustainable. An average American grocery store is around 46,000 square feet, approaching the size of a football field. Inside, thousands of food products are stockpiled from around the world. And, the price of all that abundance is a lot of waste: The USDA estimates that supermarkets lose about $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone, and throw away, on average, 12 percent of produce and 7 percent of meat and poultry. Food security connects with a range of environmental issues in very direct ways. Food is central to human survival and food production is dependent on weather or changes in climate. Food is a climate change issue Food production contributes approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change. However, food production being compromised by the need for more energy sources. Land is being used to grow crops which are turned into biofuels. And, while biofuels reduce the carbon impact of transport, they also put pressure on food security. Food is a health issue The food we eat, along with other habits and lifestyles, determines our health. The media swings from reports of starvation
Scientific advances particularly in genetic modification of seeds have resulted in the patenting of staple foods like corn and soy. Meanwhile the increase in food production has also impacted both soil health and water quality, with agricultural run-off as one of the major sources of river pollution.
By 2012, 88 percent of corn (maize) and 94 percent of soy grown in the United States were genetically modified. And, now, instead of farmers collecting their own seeds from each year’s harvest for the next year’s planting, they are buying GMO seeds every year and are paying for the intellectual property of what was previously natural and free of cost.
in Africa to reality TV shows about obesity and anorexia in North America and Europe. In reality 30% of the world’s population is malnourished and another 30% is obese. Developed countries waste 30%-40% of food. This happens at every stage from farm to fork and, and like with energy, food waste is where individuals can make a difference. Food is a land use issue Food production uses approximately 40% of the world’s land and 70% of fresh water. The amount of land available for food production is under pressure from residential and industrial development. Now that more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, we are more reliant on food being transported to us for purchase rather than growing our own food. However, it is estimated that 20% of our food needs can be met by urban agriculture. Food is an economic and employment issue Worldwide, 60% of farmers are small-scale and they produce 50% of the world’s food. In the developed world we have industrialized farming, which means that fewer people are growing food. In North America and Europe this has created a disconnected from food production and is seen as part of a wider disconnection from nature.
“After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy. As for healthcare reform, the chronic diseases forcing spending ever upward are rooted in the way Americans eat. You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet.” Michael Pollan (2014)
The 1948 Declaration on Human Rights includes the right to food (Article 25), and there are several organization’s with mandates on food production at a global level including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations were created to protect food production and public health for all.
READ: Can We Feed the World & Sustain the Planet? Smithsonian magazine http://www.geog.psu.edu/ sites/default/files/Scientific%20 American%20Article.pdf
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD SECURITY