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Daily Archives: December 6, 2018

Sterling College Community Food Action Students Explore Approaches to Local Food Security – Sterling College

Sterling College Community Food Action Students Explore Approaches to Local Food Security – Sterling College

Community Food Action

Social movements and innovation often begin and have a big impact at the local level, and students in a Sterling College course are exploring what that means in terms of food security. Community Food Action, taught by Faculty in Sustainable Food Systems Allison Van Akkeren, investigates the intersection of food justice and a local food system in part by involving students in successful community initiatives to bring local food and food awareness to all people in the greater Craftsbury community.

From Policy to Implementation

Throughout the semester, students have been involved in hands-on direct food action such as preparing community dinners, analyzing recipes, designing food education programs and working with various local food aid organizations, while also exploring food policy. For example, students developed recipes for and facilitated a taste test of muffins with students at Craftsbury Elementary as part of that school’s participation in Universal School Breakfast. They also learned about the policy behind Universal Free Breakfast in readings and discussion with Rebecca Mitchell, who works as a Child Nutrition Initiatives Specialist at Hunger Free Vermont. In this role, Mitchell provides training and individualized support to schools and communities to strengthen their use of federal child nutrition programs.

Reflections on Volunteering

Students in this course investigate hunger issues in Vermont and the impact of food insecurity as they support, examine and critique the network of organizations already providing food support programs. These organizations include Farm to School, The Center for an Agriculture Economy, Hardwick Area Food Shelf, Salvation Farms, The Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, and other less formal, local initiatives. Students in the course research, volunteer with and reflect on their experiences and interactions with these groups.

Gleaning with Salvation Farms and hearing from its executive director and founder, Theresa Snow ‘01, had a big impact on the students. Page Garner reflected on her experience and wrote: “This week in class I was exposed to gleaning for a second time. Not only was speaking with Theresa Snow inspiring, especially as a successful Sterling alumna, but the act of getting in the field and quantifying good work felt thoroughly fulfilling. Over a hundred pounds of vegetables and herbs that would have otherwise fed only the bugs and voles is now in the hands of those who can distribute it to those without to ease some of their burden. Even if we had described the charitable food system as a solution to only a symptom of a deeper issue it still speaks to my heart as being of tremendous value.”

Each of the six students in this class also volunteered for shifts at the Hardwick Area Food Pantry. Of that experience, Robb Milks wrote, “It was interesting to see the diversity of food that was offered. There was a range of processed foods, government-looking off-brands and some quality locally-produced foods. The availability of local foods was exciting to see, being that there is a tendency for grass-based animal products to be cost prohibitive to some. A delivery of Salvation Farms-gleaned produce arrived during my volunteer time and I helped unload and package the vegetables. Having previously known of Salvation Farms work, it was great to see first-hand where the food goes and who it goes to. Every individual I interacted with at the food pantry was friendly and grateful. There was clear excitement for the fresh vegetables available to the pantry’s clients. It puts things into perspective to see first-hand those who struggle with food security.”

Pies for People Project

The class gave key support to the Pies for People project, which celebrated its 10th year this fall of community partnerships that produce holiday pies to donate to the the Hardwick Area Food Pantry, Woodbury food shelf, three free community dinners, schools, nursing homes and others. By the time this year’s project is completed, Pies for People will have made more than 1,000 homemade pumpkin and squash pies over ten years.

The annual project is organized by the Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Hardwick Area Food Pantry and Sterling College, who work together to collect donations and line up volunteers to bake 150 pies from scratch. The 300 pounds of squash needed for the pies was gleaned from High Mowing Organic Seeds. Center for an Agricultural Economy staff washed, roasted, peeled and processed the squash and made it into buckets of thick orange puree. The Community Food Action students made the pie filling from local ingredients, helped roll out the pie crusts and baked half of the pies. Some pies are delivered fresh as part of holiday baskets for food pantry clients, while some are hand-delivered to other venues or frozen for community dinners later in the month.

Community Dinners

The class organized two free community dinners in Craftsbury. The first was a harvest dinner that included bread and pumpkin cake that the class made with the elementary students. They also served corn chowder made with local veggies donated by Pete’s Greens. The class had processed the corn for the chowder earlier in the semester when the Jones Farm donated nearly 50 pounds of it. The second event was a “salvaged food” dinner, with food donations from the Craftsbury General Store, basil gleaned from Pete’s Greens with Salvation Farms, “seconds” vegetables from Pete’s Greens and Sterling College dining hall leftovers. This free dinner provided a tasty meal to the community that otherwise would have ended up in the compost heap.

Community Workshops

The semester-long course finishes in December with students designing and leading workshops to be held on campus and open to the public as part of a community series offered by the Center for an Agricultural Economy called “Grow Your Own.” A fermentation workshop is planned for December 1 and a natural spa products workshop is scheduled for December 5.

Reflections on the Impact of Involvement

It has been gratifying to have the students involved closely with projects in the community and understand, through their weekly essays, the powerful learning experience these interactions have been for them,” said Allison Van Akkeren. “In addition, we are doing important volunteer work in the community. I appreciate the enthusiasm and thoughtful reflection that the students have shared.”

Student Robb Milks agrees. “One of my biggest appreciations for the CFA course is that we get out and see what is going on in the world instead of simply sitting in circles and discussing food issues at hand. The variety of media (we read) and first-hand experiences bring further clarity and understanding to the reality of food access issues locally and nationwide,” reflected Milks.

Want to know more?

FOOD INSECURITY: THE MANUFACTURED HUNGER CRISIS IN YEMEN – Food Security and Food Justice

FOOD INSECURITY: THE MANUFACTURED HUNGER CRISIS IN YEMEN – Food Security and Food Justice

Is the international system at fault for Yemen’s hunger epidemic? 

I used to think of famines as an issue lost in the past. However, for the past three years, it saddens me to see that the international community has been deplorable in providing support to a country ravaged in violence, instability and at the brink of starvation.

Not only have governments allowed an entirely avoidable tragedy, but have enflamed it by proving funds, missile strikes and deploying troops for their own geopolitical agendas. This leads me to question, what are the causes that have led to these tragic current events and who, or what is liable? yemen pic

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FOOD INSECURE?

Food insecurity is a situation where individuals don’t have ‘‘secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life’’.

To better understand the issue of food insecurity, not only in Yemen but numerous impoverished countries across the world, it is important to consider what the wider issues are that has resulted in this outcome. According to many academics, it is the multidimensional issues surrounding poverty such as; poor health, lack of education, unemployment, unpaid wages, political instability, conflict and environmental degradation that has resulted in many countries to be food insecure.

Are these issues rooted in neo-liberal practices? I would say so.

In essence, neo-liberal ideology has rooted a systematic, political agenda that affects people’s access to food all across the globe, but especially poverty-stricken states. The liberalisation of the global-market focuses on mass-produced, unregulated, monopolistic food systems, and with it comes the instabilities of huge wage gaps and devastating recessions. As a result, the corporate orientation of food systems has appropriated business from local producers, inflaming security matters.

WHY WAS YEMEN FOOD INSECURE FROM THE START?

Yemen, the poorest nation within the Gulf region has endured food insecurity for many decades, even prior to the conflict we seldom see on news outlets today. This is due to its poor political, economic and social frameworks. Yemen’s food security issues stem from the fact that 90% of their staple food (wheat) and 100% of rice, sugar, and tea is imported. Only 25% of Yemen’s food was produced locally, and whilst this percentage is staggeringly low, it provided at much as 60% of families with a stable source of income.

Since international airstrikes have destroyed much of Yemen’s infrastructure, and Saudi forces appropriating full control over the main sea-port, Hodeida, it’s plausible to assume the current famine will intensify. It is ranked 178/188 by the Human Development Report for food deprivation and it is no surprise that humanitarian intervention, whilst reasonably effective has its restraints. It is, in fact, the political market that holds the authority of investment and policy agendas that rule the global food arena, which is in need of transformation, if we want to make positive changes in developing countries.

THE IMPACT OF WAR:

Yemen was already a suffering country and it’s unfortunate to see regional and international countries are using it as a ‘conflict arena’ to exert control. The effect of conflict on gas and oil availability and prices has resulted in the failure of local food-farming. What was already a low-wage, low-yielding practice has been hit further. This combined with the blockade of Yemen’s sea-ports has led to its population to suffer an inflation of supermarket prices, whilst not having any means of income due to the failures and demolition of state institutions. The rapid deterioration of Yemen’s economic and environmental conditions means the food insecurity crisis needs prompt action.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME (WFP):  WFP

The facts indicate aid interventions are not having a significant impact on improving the situation. Why is this?

THE OVER-ARCHING ISSUE OF FOOD INSECURITY:

The role of the global market in the current food system holds the security and health of citizens across the globe. The food-desert that exists in Yemen and other poor countries is a result of poverty traps, aggravated by conflicts such as civil and proxy wars. Food insecurity can fuel poverty and conflict, whilst food security has the ability to manufacture resilient economic frameworks and can influence reducing violence within states.

Yemen’s food crisis has outlined the initial food security difficulties faced, are because of neo-liberal food politics, then exacerbated by the dogmatic rivalries of differing state agendas. To help the situation in Yemen, we need to act as a force of change and advocate the end of conflict and air, sea and intervention blockades in conjunction with constructive talks to rebuild and strengthen its political and economic structures. This will then pave the way to a healthier and more productive country overall.

I think it is important to empower and entitle citizens to food-rights by implementing dynamic and sustainable local food manufacturing programmes that are able to produce a range of foods. We need to recognise the interdependent relationship between poverty and food and see them as a key human rights issue rather than something that is a ‘normal way of life’.

Nation ranked 31st worldwide in terms of overall food security. – Ireti Adesida

Nation ranked 31st worldwide in terms of overall food security. – Ireti Adesida

Food prices in the UAE are among the cheapest in the world as the country continues to invest and improve its food security, though there are still some key challenges that the Emirates needs to overcome in the years to come.

According to Economist magazine’s Global Food Security Index 2018, food prices in the UAE are the fourth-most affordable globally, thanks to stronger dirham, improved domestic food production through new technologies and shifting focus to safe havens such as Eastern Europe, Australia and North and South America.

The index ranked the UAE 31st worldwide in terms of overall food security with 72.5 score, two spots up from 33rd and an improvement of 0.8 points year-on-year. In the Gulf region, the Emirates is ranked fourth in overall food security, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

In terms of natural resources and resilience, the UAE was ranked 113rd, a drop of nine positions. For the availability sub-index, the UAE ranked 50th and 43rd in quality and safety sub-index among 113 countries. The Economist said the GCC countries are the most import-dependent for their food supplies, but these countries also have smaller proportions of their populations below the poverty line, which makes them more financially resilient when global prices skyrocket.

The report said that the physical effects of climate change, including increases in temperature, droughts, flooding, storms and rising sea levels, are likely to hit Gulf states and the rest of the Mena hardest, followed by Central and South America.

“Worsening dust and sandstorms cause significant agricultural losses in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which are near the bottom of the rankings in terms of historical susceptibility to storm damage,” it said.

Mahboob Murshed, managing director of Alpen Capital, said the UAE has been trying to mitigate the issue by promoting cultivation of high-value and low water-reliant crops through the use of new agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation and hydroponics. However, despite efforts to boost domestic production, the UAE remains largely dependent on imports to feed its growing population.

“The UAE has developed comprehensive plans to secure food supply, which include investments in farmlands abroad as well as improving domestic productivity by using new technologies. It has already invested in countries like Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and Egypt to secure food supply. However, weak infrastructure, local hostility, poor security and political risks have affected some of the projects. It has hence, shifted focus to safer havens such as Eastern Europe, Australia, and North and South America,” Murshed said.

“The UAE government has also invested heavily in providing the technology required to improve land and water management and boost the agricultural sector. To enhance crop productivity and reduce agricultural costs, it is attempting to deploy space technology. This involves using satellites equipped with remote sensing technology for monitoring plant growth and activity, irrigation needs and environmental conditions,” he added.

According to Euromonitor International’s estimates, UAE residents’ spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages will amount to Dh107.8 billion in 2018, which will increase to Dh112.19 billion in 2019, Dh117.6 billion in 2020.

Zaid Al Hachem, group director at Dynamic Operator, said the quality of food served in the UAE is exceptional compared to any part of the world despite it being a very young destination.

“There are multiple reasons for this. First and foremost, the food control authorities not only ensure the food safety and quality but raise the bar on the same and take necessary measures through the various policies and regulations. Random inspections across all food outlets and restaurants are conducted to maintain standards at every level. Secondly, the range and choice of cuisines and dining outlets in the UAE is absolutely incredible and is turning it into a true gastronomic hub. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before the first sought-after stars are awarded to restaurants here. Many of the restaurants here have already made it to the world’s top restaurant lists,” Al Hachem added.

Feras Al Sadek, marketing in-charge at the Grand Millennium Dubai, said the food quality in the UAE is definitely one of the highest around the world, thanks to the municipality who keeps a close eye on all ingredients coming into the country, those being produced locally and for creating a food safety system that is among the best in the world.

“On top of that, since the UAE has created a high benchmark in regards to overall quality of the country, restaurant and hotel owners too are trying to keep up with this; that being said the owners all choose to import only the best, most organic and healthiest ingredients from around the world due to easy logistical access thanks to our airports and seaports. Local farmers too are doing a great job in only producing the highest standards as possible and are all within few kilometers from the hotels and restaurants,” Al Sadek said.

Walid Al Awa, general manager at Tamani Marina Hotel & Hotel Apartment, said Dubai has a strong healthy programmes called hazard analysis and critical control point [HACCP], made especially for restaurants to make sure that quality of food remain the same without any effects during storing.

Compared to others in Europe and the US, statistics shows that service of food in Dubai considered one of the top rankings by offering a high standards and maintaining high quality trainings for staff serving and cleanliness of any kitchens.

Globally, Singapore topped in overall global food security followed by Ireland, the UK, US, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Finland, Canada and France.

– waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

Food security: FG set to disburse N25b agribusiness loans, says Wamakko – 9jacable

Food security: FG set to disburse N25b agribusiness loans, says Wamakko – 9jacable

Tunde Omolehin,  Sokoto

The Federal Government is set to disburse N25 billion to Nigerians under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s agribusiness loans scheme.

Chairman of the Northern Senators Forum, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, disclosed this, on Sunday, in Sokoto.

He spoke at the disbursement of N10,000, each, to 600 unemployed women and youths to empower them under the Directorate’s Micro Enterprises Enhancement Scheme (MEES), graduation of 400 youths trained by the Senator in five automobile and residential security, as well as the flag off of training of one thousand persons in vocational skills.

The Senator, who represents Sokoto North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, also said the list of the beneficiaries would soon be compiled, out of which beneficiaries from Sokoto State would be given N780 million.

READ ALSO: Akeredolu extols Fasehun’s virtues

He said, “this is part of the ongoing laudable efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari to further curb unemployment, hunger, poverty and youths restiveness, as well as their attendant unpalatable consequences.

“The Nigerian masses are the cornerstone of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari, unlike what obtained hitherto, where only few individuals were regrettably cornering everything.

“This noble gesture by the President, through the NDE, is aimed at carrying all Nigerians along, in line with the tenets of good governance, accountability and transparency.”

Sen. Wamakko further averred that, the gesture would discourage the beneficiaries from thuggery, drugs abuse, restiveness and other devilish, destructive vices.

On the 400 youths he trained, the lawmaker said that the gesture was part of his relentless efforts to complement the giant strides of the federal government, to further uplift the living standard of Nigerians.

According to him, the gesture would make the beneficiaries to become productive, self reliant and self sustaining.

He admonished the gubernatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sokoto State, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu and his running mate, Alhaji Faruku Malami Yabo to emulate his gesture and that of President Muhammadu Buhari, when eventually he is elected during the forthcoming general elections.

Wamakko also said, “You should listen to the yearnings and aspirations of the entire people of the state, in line with the virtuous principles of good governance.

“When elected in 2019, In Sha Allahu, you should endeavour to carry everybody along, and never be complacent and you should never run a government of the few, for the few and by the few.”

Earlier, the Director-General of NDE, Dr. Nasir Ladan Argungu, stated that the beneficiaries of the N780 million agribusiness loans were not required to provide any collateral, due to the self recognition of Sen. Wamakko.

The epoch-making event was attended by the APC Gubernatorial Candidate and his running mate, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu and Alhaji Faruku Malami Yabo, respectively, the Chairman, National Commission for Colleges of Education, among other top notches, leaders and members of the APC.

Map of the Day: The Colors of Food Security – Ireti Adesida

Map of the Day: The Colors of Food Security – Ireti Adesida

Submitted by Taps Coogan on the 11th of November 2018 to The Sounding Line.

Taps: The following post and text all come via The Colors of Food Security. Enjoy:

The Colors of Food Security
Food security is a highly complex issue requiring a systems view that integrates multiple dimensions and aspects of the food system. Food availability, quality, access, utilization, and the stability of each of these components, all depend on agricultural production, employment, poverty, economic growth, climate, human health, biodiversity loss, water, pollution, consumption, and societal norms. With the maps we have given you, we have shown you what food security looks like today. Paint the food system you would like to see tomorrow.

A Cultivated Planet
Each pixel on the map highlights the areas covered by croplands and pastures across the world. Humans have converted ~12% of the earth’s ice-free land surface area to grow crops, fuel, and fiber, and ~22% for grazing cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and other forms of livestock. Agriculture represents the largest human land footprint on the planet. Rising demand for agricultural products is currently straining the Earth’s life-supporting systems.

Employment in agriculture
Each pixel on the map highlights the number of humans around the world that are employed in agriculture. Agriculture employs some 1 billion people across the world and is a critical source of income for many of the world’s poor. While some parts of the world have decoupled agricultural production from labor through the use of mechanization and technology, others have not yet made this transition. Countries that have a high per capita GDP and food security, typically have low proportions of their population in agriculture, whilst poorer countries have higher proportional employment in agriculture and lower food security.

World Hunger
Each pixel on the map highlights the number of undernourished humans on the planet. One in ten people on the planet today do not have enough calories to support a basic, energetically non-demanding lifestyle. One in four do not get enough of the right nutrients from their food, such as Iron and Vitamin A. Lack of proper nutrition has drastic impacts on child mortality, health, and intellect. While the proportion of undernourished people across the world has declined over the past few decades, the proportion of people who consume in excess has risen dramatically, and in absolute numbers now is almost double those of undernourished.

Water Consumption
Each pixel on the map highlights the quantity of groundwater extracted in different watersheds across the world. Agricultural production accounts for ~92% of the human water footprint. As a consequence, many aquifers around the world are rapidly being depleted, some large lakes and inland seas have dried out, and many rivers no longer reach the oceans. This means that agriculture is a major factor leading to water insecurity for human populations and for other species on our planet.

Pollution
Each pixel on the map highlights the amount of excess phosphorus applied to croplands across the world. Fertilizers from agriculture, including synthetic, animal-based (e.g. manure), and plant-based (e.g. legumes), have enabled global agricultural productivity to soar over the past 50 years. However, the use of these fertilizers is often in excess. Phosphorus is a key ingredient in many fertilizers, and its over-application has negatively impacted our freshwater systems through widespread eutrophication. Excess nitrogen often applied alongside phosphorus, has also come at a great cost to human health through pollution of drinking water.

Biodiversity Loss
Each pixel on the map highlights the number of threatened mammal and bird species whose ranges overlap with pasture or cropland ecosystems. Agriculture is responsible for clearing ~30% of forests worldwide, resulting in ~35% loss of local species richness. The dominance of agricultural land use makes it especially difficult for species with large distributions to co-exist with humans on the planet. Loss of biodiversity, in turn, causes a decline in nature’s contributions to people, such as pollination and pest control services, which lead to reduced agricultural productivity.

Climate change
Each pixel on the map highlights greenhouse gas emissions from global croplands that are one of the leading causes of climate change. Agriculture currently is responsible for ~22% of global greenhouse gas emissions, ~9% come from deforestation, and ~13% come from related land management. Methane from livestock and rice paddies and nitrous oxide from fertilizer application are some of the main contributors of agricultural emissions. In a vicious feedback cycle, these greenhouse gas emissions are currently contributing to an increase in extreme weather disasters that are leading to lower yields and more crop losses.

Waste
Each pixel on the map shows the percentage of food that is wasted in each country. For mapping, we only highlight dense human populations in each country (>1000 people per pixel). Currently, ~25% of the world’s food produced globally is never consumed. Food waste occurs in the field, after harvest, along with supply chains, and among retailers and consumers. Waste due to consumers is much higher in European and North American countries, while waste in the field occurs predominantly in African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian countries. Reducing total food waste is a major leverage point towards a sustainable food system.

Diet Shifts
Each pixel on the map highlights the number of calories produced that are currently being used to feed livestock (in total this is ~36% of all calories produced by crops globally). The world is currently facing a series of interconnected problems related to the food system including malnutrition, environmental impacts, non-communicable and communicable diseases. One proposed solution to these problems is to shift dietary trends away from grain-fed animal products. This would free up ~70% more calories, meet human energy requirements and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment and human health.

Right to Food
Each pixel on the map highlights the number of humans around the world that have an explicit constitutional right to food. Included in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the right to food has been explicitly recognized in the constitutions of 30 countries. Currently ~815 million people in the world do not have sufficient caloric intake to sustain their daily energy needs. One solution to this problem, and to others related to our unsustainable food system, is to entrench the right to food in the constitutions of nations. However, the actual impact of the constitutional right to food on food security is not yet known.

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