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Opinion Pieces Address World Food Day

October 16 is recognized as World Food Day, with this year’s theme of “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” The following summarizes several opinion pieces addressing issues surrounding food production, distribution and security.

  • Chris Brett, The Guardian’s “Sustainable Business” blog: “According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of the food currently produced never reaches our plates,” Brett, head of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Olam International, writes, adding, “[A]lthough some element of waste is inevitable, reducing its scale will have a significant impact on the future of global food security and the sustainability of agricultural development.” He continues, “Everyone has a role in securing the future of food but the onus is on major influencers, not least the food industry, to lead the way” (10/16).
  • José Graziano da Silva, Achim Steiner, Project Syndicate: The amount of food waste “is all the more unfathomable, given that, alongside this massive wastage and loss, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from ‘silent hunger’ — malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies,” FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva and Steiner, U.N. under secretary general and executive director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), write. They discuss a new FAO report (.pdf) highlighting “another troubling aspect of the problem: the negative consequences for the environment and the natural resources on which we rely for our survival.” The authors note several steps that can be undertaken to address the issue of waste and conclude, “The world confronts many seemingly intractable problems; food wastage is one issue that we all can do something about now” (10/15).
  • Sarah Edwards, Huffington Post U.K. Blog: “Indigenous children in Peru are growing up stunted and with cognitive impairments, and food aid programs are part of the problem,” Edwards, head of policy and campaigns at Health Poverty Action, writes, noting the findings of a report from her organization. She says many food aid programs do not consult with the people they are meant to help, and “the most significant flaw in the food aid approach is its unsustainability.” She adds, “Enabling communities to have the power to produce their own food rather than rely on externally produced hand-outs is an approach known as ‘food sovereignty.'” Edwards concludes, “[A] long-term answer should involve prioritizing the development of local agricultural and food production using local resources to achieve self-sufficiency, with food aid programs being an interim measure that are designed with the involvement of the community they are intended to help” (10/15).
  • Kathleen Mogelgaard, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: Mogelgaard, principal at KAM Consulting, writes about her experience visiting Keur Moussa, Senegal, where women were working to shore up water resources for the growing season. “Yet food security depends not only on the amount and quality of food available, but also on the number of people who need to share it. And unfortunately, planning families is not an easy thing for many women in Senegal,” she writes, adding, “The women of Keur Moussa, like millions of women around the world, are on the front lines of efforts to achieve food security and better nutrition for their families and communities.” She concludes, “When their needs are met — including their needs for family planning — this year’s World Food Day theme will be within closer reach” (10/15).