Here are some scary statistics you should know:
10% of the world is morbidly obese
10% of the world is malnourished/starving
40% of the food we produce is wasted
Yet I often hear people say "We need more farms, we need more food supplies for those that are starving". Think about it though...if 40% of the food we produce is being wasted, is making more of it going to solve the problem?
It would just go wasted. The issue doesn't lie in the amount available; it's in how we produce it in the first place.
-We subsidize low grade foods like corn which gets converted into syrups and powders and put into junk food, making it cheaper and more available
-We subsidize these foods because we are an export focused country, leaving local support at a minimum
-Not only do we focus on exporting, but we trade redundantly (we produce apples for export, but we also import them) because there would be a public outcry if we couldn’t get an ingredient everyday of year
-We provide little to no support to our fruit/vegetable/meat/dairy farmers, making it a deficit to work in the profession
-Being unable to live off a farmers salary, children are moving away from the business, causing smaller farms to close and leaving the food production in fewer and larger hands (The average age of a farmer is 55)
-Mass production farms increase the risk of contamination and disease spreading, because there is greater room for error
-40% of our greenhouse gases come from our inefficient food production methods (growing, preparation, waste, transportation...)
-Only 3% of the planet can be grown on and we are covering it in more and more suburbia by the day
Overall, our little planet just can't take it. We are living in a greedy and inefficient manner. The environment and the soil will only hold out for so long and if things don't change soon, we could be looking at an even bigger crisis.
A few things to consider:
1) Support your local farmers. If you have any nearby, go purchase from them. Support them and encourage them to stay open and live well.
2) Support your local affordable food programs. Many cities now have food programs like The Good Box or the Green Box, where you can purchase a box of local produce at a discount. Seek out the one in your area.
3) We need to advocate for support for other types of farmers besides soy and corn. If you want healthy food to be cheaper, there needs to be more support for these farmers. Consider talking to the decision makers in your area.
4) Policy also needs to change regarding food safety. Food safety policy is designed for large corporations, yet we still apply the same regulations to our little ma and pa cottage companies, which they can't realistically hold up to. There needs to be some adjustments.
5) Institutions should make relationships with local producers. Why are we not building relationships with local farmers at our schools and hospitals? These institutions could benefit greatly from local farms and the farmers would benefit as well. Not to mention the quality of the food might improve.
6) We need more opportunities for people to learn food skills. Lots of us have lost touch with food, nature and cooking. School gardens and cooking classes should be a regular part of education. Community cooking classes should be available for people to take. I personally am working on this by providing a free class once per month at a local farmers market. If you can't cook, how are you going to know what to do with your food?
A little more serious than my usual posts, but this needed to be said, the world is not in a good place and people need to be aware. If you have any connections in your area, please do your part. If we all work together and make it clear we want change, we can make a difference.