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Thoughts on Food and Sustainability in Honor of World Food Day
October 16th is World Food Day. The UN FAO designated this day in order “to promote global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger, and to highlight the need to ensure healthy diets for all”.
Since the FAO was established in 1945, many things have changed regarding the issue of food insecurity. Today, food is a generality that must be detailed. Food is part of what makes us different all around the world, what identifies us culturally and religiously. With food being such a prominent feature in social media and trends, we can sometimes forget that food is a staple that not everyone has access to. But, food is also a wasteful and harmful manufacturing process. We tend to overlook this fact because food is a necessity we cannot do without. A significant amount of today’s manufactured and processed foods contain health hazard ingredients such as sugar, oil, salt and empty carbs. If we do not change our eating habits sooner rather than later, we will all pay the inevitable price of an unaffordable healthcare system and an unsustainable environment. Every one of us has to think about food on a much larger scale than what is immediately consumed; we have to think about the process pre and post manufacturing and the consumption stage.
Many researchers have shown that food waste is the number one factor responsible for greenhouse gasses. Organizations all over the world are calling for “Meatless Monday”, one day without the consumption of meat. This one day is critical in order to help decrease the amount of meat manufacturing. And make no mistake, food is manufacturing. Whether meat, poultry, fish or vegetables – it is all manufactured by companies trying to utilize resources better and more efficiently than ever. Food Manufacturing may also be a blessing. Better utilization of resources is always a good idea, on the other hand, sometimes the means are questionable i.e. animal cruelty, genetic modification, drugs etc.
Another question we have to ask ourselves is, do we have enough food to feed the entire population and meet the growing demand? Recently, I met with a former Israeli Minister of Agriculture and he responded with a 1:1:1 equation – more people, more need for food thus more usage of land and agriculture.
Leket Israel is an organization that leads food rescue in Israel and is perhaps one of the most efficient food rescue organizations in the world. We believe that there is enough food to feed everyone – it is only a matter of availability and logistics. Hundreds, perhaps more, years ago all food was grown locally, the barrier being land and logistics. As technology advanced and food preservation became available, food started to “travel” further distances. Despite these advancements, we will need to develop additional technology in order to make rescued food available at more food deserts. Not just in Israel but globally. This technology is imperative, because soon, we will no longer be able to afford the amount of waste produced by food and the enormous environmental and sustainability impacts it makes.
We will need to change the paradigm of “what food is” to a sustainable, economical, and nutritional process where we can ensure that much more of what we produce will be consumed and healthy. Food is no longer just sustenance, it is an opportunity and a liability that demands our attention.