Healing Gaia

World Food Day: Climate is Changing

World Food Day is a stark reminder that simply producing more food, or wasting less of what we produce, will never get food into the mouths and bellies of those who desperately need it yet can't afford to grow or buy it.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published October 14, 2016

This Sunday, October 16 is World Food Day. Many of you might not know it, but this day has been celebrated for the past 37 years! First observed in 1979, World Food Day honours the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada.

This year's theme - Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too - builds upon the FAO's vision of achieving food security for all through regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

The FAO's three main goals are:

By creating resilient, productive and sustainable global agricultural practices, and reducing food waste, the FAO hopes to end global hunger by 2030. Realistically, climate change aside, is it even possible to end global hunger?

As a teenager, I read Frances Moore Lappe's book, Diet for a Small Planet. I remember thinking it made complete sense to reduce meat consumption in order to improve global food security.

It took a little longer for me to realize that greed and politics have far more to do with the ongoing global hunger crisis than a lack of bounty. 40 years later, not much has changed - we just have better methods of tracking the problem as it continues to grow in size, scope and severity.

So, it's clear that individuals can significantly reduce their ecological footprint by reducing the amount of food they waste, but how does that evolve into eradicating hunger in Canada and around the world by 2030?

First of all, Canadians shouldn't have to wait another 14 years for food security. However, compared to the lack of progress made to reduce child poverty across the country over the past 25 years, this becomes a relatively more palatable timeline.

To replace hunger with food security, Canada needs:

Once we ensure food security for Canadians, what role will we play in ending global hunger? How do we stop food from being used as a weapon of war? How do we prohibit corporations from buying up large tracks of land to grow cash crops at the expense of locals' food security?

How do we prevent corporations from patenting life and holding farmers hostage using designer seeds and terminator technology? How do we put an end to corporations buying up water rights? How can we continue to justify our role in perpetuating climate change when it places poorer countries at even greater risk of food insecurity?

Greed and politics will continue to prevent us from ending world hunger unless a universal change of consciousness occurs. Our self-centered, self-serving means of national and international production and distribution have failed to lessen hunger here at home and around the world.

Climate change remains secondary to creating jobs and growing the economy, even though these goals needn't be mutually exclusive. War continues to rage within Canada in the form of the oppression of women, Indigenous peoples, racialized and visible ethnic groups, workers, and the poor.

If we can't significantly address these home grown issues, how do we expect to make a positive international contribution to ensuring global food security?

Improving individual, national and international food security requires a complex set of solutions addressing the intersecting causes that can be quite unique to each individual and country based on their experience of oppression and discrimination.

World Food Day is a stark reminder that simply producing more food, or wasting less of what we produce, will never get food into the mouths and bellies of those who desperately need it yet can't afford to grow or buy it.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.

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