World Food Day (celebrated on October 16th this year) marks the founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 1945. Since its inception, World Food Day provides us with an opportunity to highlight issues of hunger, agriculture, farming practices, land use and development.
At least a billion of our fellow citizens on this planet go to bed hungry and starving every night. And at least another billion are suffering from diseases that come to us because of obesity and overeating, including heart disease, diabetes, strokes and high blood pressure.
While the problem at hand is a very large one indeed, at the grassroots level there are immediate ways you can take action to do your part. Don’t be paralyzed by guilt.
Here are THREE things you can do right now to help end hunger and minimize the negative impact we humans inflict on our food system.
Minimize food waste
It is estimated that at least one third of food produced worldwide is wasted—that’s about 1.3 billion tons of food per year. 25% of all the water taken from our planet is used to produce food that goes to waste.
Here are some simple ways to reduce waste:
- Buy less, not more. Keep track of food consumption in your family and buy accordingly. Even if buying in bulk saves money at the moment, there is no saving if food is thrown in the garbage can.
- Label your foods with their “best before” dates and keep track of the dates.
- Store leftovers in airtight containers and use them within two days from the original preparation date.
- Scour the internet for recipes that transform leftovers into gourmet meals. (Yes, it is possible!)
- Compost uneaten vegetable leftovers. Your garden will thank you.
- Order one entrée and two plates when you go to a restaurant for dinner. Restaurants are notorious for heaping your plate with food. Sharing is good, reduces the waistline and saves food from being wasted.
Tons of energy and resources are consumed transporting food to areas of the world where it is not in season, as a result of demand. Don’t contribute to the demand by making an effort to buy food that is fresh, in season, and from your local farmers and food producers. In a northern climate such as ours, we do import food, however, we can make choices that have less impact on the planet by importing food that is closer to home.
Use your power as a consumer
As a consumer you have the power to determine how big food companies do business. For instance, as our demand for sugar increases, the demand for land to cultivate sugar cane does as well. The result is a practice that is devastating to small farmers: land grabs. Learn more about this unjust practice on the internet www.fao.org or www.oxfam.ca. Large companies such as Pepsi and Coke use tremendous amounts of sugar in their products and have an insatiable demand for land to produce sugar. Direct your consumption to products that are brought to market through fair trade practices.
You can and do make a difference!
If you think you are too small to make a difference,
You haven’t spent the night with a mosquito!”