Friday, May 23, 2008

Food Insecurity

I recently posted some thoughts about an article on famine that I was reading, as I've done about other books and articles before. Famine and food insecurity are issues that I often worry about and read about. I'm in the habit, when I think about such things, of asking myself if personal solutions to a problem are reasonable, or if there are only political/collective solutions. In a comment response, I noted that three relatively independent food challenges easily become confounded.

Here are the three challenges I have thought about:
  1. The challenge of avoiding dangerous food of all sorts. These include things one faces in the grocery store, like mercury in fish, antibiotics in chicken, mad-cow in beef, e-coli in spinach, bad Chinese additives in apple juice, too much fat and corn syrup in packaged food, etc. Food-industry-generated bad choices that lead to obesity, excesses of dieting, or eating disorders also belong in this category. For a person of decent means, in a city like Ann Arbor where I live, options exist. However, one requires money, time to research the choices (and meaning of nutrition labels), and energy for careful shopping. If you are poor or preoccupied, you might be helped by regulation rather than just information.
  2. The challenge to the nation of maintaining a safe food supply in all senses. Our leaders have abdicated many responsibilities of regulation. This is a political problem, that also involves personal motivation. I think this may be a solvable one, though some proposals seem so inadequate as to be a cop-out -- like putting calorie counts on menus but doing nothing to offer better choices at good prices. The USA can afford to do better than we do at this time.
  3. The challenge to the whole world of meeting global food needs. For the poorest nations, for the poorest people within each nation, and for regions beset by natural and other disasters, starvation is an issue. In some countries in Africa, and in the recent events in Burma, evil intentions of leaders or of political factions are responsible for starvation. In many cases, however, global and local resolve might be able to improve the sufficiency of food for all. For this challenge, there are no personal solutions, and the politics really seem overwhelming.
Some of my thoughts on the subject appear in this post: What if global warming makes our crops fail?

1 comment:

Jen said...

These are all incredibly important things to be thinking about, Mae.