Nine things we can do today to solve world hunger
The fact world hunger exists is well known, as is the fact that there is enough food produced in the world to feed everybody. What isn’t as well known however, is what you, in your everyday lives, can do to help.
On Tuesday, 2nd October, we brought together food writer Alex Renton, adventurer and scientist Dr. Lucy Gilliam and Action Against Hunger’s Senior Evaluation, Learning & Accountability Advisor, Saul Guerrero, to debate the issues around hunger and the future of food.
Here, one of our panelists, Alex Renton shares his 9 ideas of how you can help solve world hunger.
Nine things we can do today to solve world hunger
By Alex Renton
I’ve been talking with people all over the UK about the world food price crisis – the second in four years – and its effects: a scary rise in food prices here and in the number of hungry and malnourished people across the planet.
There is frustration and horror that this crisis has happened again, so soon. That, despite the bloodshed and the anguish of 2008-2010 crisis nothing has happened to address our broken food economy. But there is hope. Lots of it.
For one, no one thinks there isn’t enough food or any prospect of it running out, despite the pressures of changing climates. As ever, we just need to distribute it better. The answer lies in political engagement. It’s still true, as the Nobel-winning economist and philosopher Amartya Sen stated 30 years ago, that there has never been a famine in a democracy.
Malnutrition and hunger are the most awful side-effect of food shortages and price rises. Malnutrition damages brains and bodies, and is a serious brake on the development of the world’s poorest countries. But an amazing breakthrough in treatment means it is now possible to reach far more of the severely malnourished, and help them more cheaply in their homes rather than hospitals. Action Against Hunger is one of the agencies pioneering Ready To Use Therapeutic Foods in Africa and South Asia.
But the best news of all is that we all can do something about hunger. Today. Do more than one thing, and we might be on the road to a world where everyone is fed properly. The recipe: get involved in the politics and get involved in your food. Eat better, shout louder, be happier!
Here’s nine ideas, gathered from people at events organised by World Development Movement, Action Against Hunger and the Take One Action film festival in Scotland.
1. Campaign to stop the speculators. Regulation of the commodity markets to stabilise food prices is crucial in the fight against hunger – some analysts say that the bankers betting on food prices since 2008 has caused more hunger than climate change. Sign up to World Development Movement’s campaign ahead of this October’s crucial meetings of finance ministers.
2. Eat less meat. Raising meat is depleting food resources and water unsustainably: 20% of greenhouse gas is the result of industrial meat production. Try holding Meatless Mondays. If you love your bacon sandwich, buy half as much bacon, but spend twice as much on it. You’ll get a tastier sandwich, and support a farmer who treats his animals more decently. More on thNine things we can do today to solve world hungere flexitarian diet.
3. Supermarkets are part of and a cause of the broken food economy, in UK and abroad. You don’t have to give them up– though it would certainly help. But, once a week, or when you can, get the groceries at an independent shop – especially one that supports local food systems – and give yourself a pat on the back.
4. In the shops. Question what’s going on. Suspend your trust. Tell managers you don’t like excess packaging, or imports that are dubiously sourced. Bargains like BOGOFs are usually paid for by the ever-squeezed producers and farmers, not the shop. Choose food that’s local and in season.
5. Reclaim the land. Brown-field sites all over our cities are there to be occupied, restored and planted with crops. Find more information at ReclaimNine things we can do today to solve world hunger The Fields.
6. Reduce your food waste – in UK we throw away 30% of usable food, and that’s putting up prices across the planet. Find tips at My Zero Waste. And support campaigns to keep food waste out of landfill: like the movement to get spare and discarded food from commercial outlets used as pig feed again.
7. Resist hi-tech solutions – they won’t feed the planet, most scientists agree, just corporate profits. We can keep GM out of Europe, if we fight. Read more here.
8. Get to know the food system. We need to return to an understanding of the land, rebond with the farmers and producers, and see how we can be take part in keeping the world fed. See the Soil Association’s Community Supported Agriculture site for schemes near you that are ready to welcome adults and children.
9. Publicise and donate to Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food appeal on acute child malnutrition: new methods mean children seriously ill from lack of food can be treated in their own homes. Vastly increasing the numbers who can be reached, while lowering the cost. Please share the link.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think. What else can people in the UK do to help end world hunger? What are your thoughts on Alex’s nine ideas?