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Stamp Out Hunger: A Conversation On Food, Security, Seasonality

By Tawnya Manion | January 16, 2013

Photo: Jeannette Park

Recently, I attended a panel discussion at the Natural History Museum between Marcus, Dr. Molly Jahn of the University of Madison, and activist and author Dr. Raj Patel on the topic of how climate, politics, and economics effect our food systems, and how we will feed the people on this planet in the future. According to Jahn, “There is more than one answer to why we experience famine and food insecurity around the globe.”  However, it is clear that it is not a lack of food that is the problem, but a insufficient infrastructure that leaves millions of people malnourished.

The world’s farmers grow enough food to feed everyone, but the distribution of sustenance leaves many individuals still hungry. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Britain, “about a third of the food the world produces goes to waste.” In spite of this statistic, if we do not find a way to utilize the world’s crops, we will have immense problems when it comes to feeding our growing planet. Therefore, we must look at how food is harvested, stored, transported, and the importance of buying seasonal, local fare.

During the discussion, Marcus pointed out  that we must commemorate our local produce. He went on to share an example with the audience by stating, “I remember growing up in Sweden where rhubarb is in season from June 15th to the end of July, and then it is gone. It has a six-week window where rhubarb is every where. We celebrate it!” As a result we can learn from the Swedes by reputing the seasonal produce and planning our diets around what is in season in our region instead of seeking out fruits and vegetables that must be shipped from different states and countries. As a result, it is concluded that changing the foundation of our food structure to ensure that people do not go hungry starts with each individual making mindful choices to consciously choose foods that are in season in their area. Despite that, this does not address the political aspect of why we see starvation and malnutrition across the globe, but for now, we will focus on what you can do to start to support a change in our food system.

(From left to right) Raj Patel, Molly Jahn, Marcus, Robert Bazell

Buy local, seasonal ingredients from farmers at your neighborhood farmers market. When you purchase your groceries at a green market you ensure that your dollars go to support your regional agriculturist, and that your edibles are fresh and nutritious.

Listen to the facts not the “buzz” words. Words like “organic” are thrown around quite often in grocery stores to get you to spend more money than is necessary on food items. These terms are not solutions to our world hunger problems, they are edibles that are regulated by a council, and can be misleading to consumers.

Support companies that take care of their producers. Farmers that grow and harvest the foods we eat deserve a livelihood. Unfortunately, many times farmers are exploited and do not earn enough money to take care of their farmers and their families and end up selling their farms to bigger companies that in the end control the market and cause price spikes on staple produce. Therefore, opt to support institutions that buy produce and foodstuff for a fair price from the agronomist.

 

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