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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Food security: Is history going to repeat itself?

Food security: Is history going to repeat itself?

Throughout history, empires have risen and fallen. Many reasons are attributed to this rise and fall; disease, famine, invasion. However, what is generally overlooked is the role food, and food economics, in this rise and fall of empires and civilizations.

The historic practice of agriculture

Ever since the agricultural revolution, human beings changed their lifestyle from being nomads to being farmers. It was easier to grow food that they wanted to on their own, and not solely depend on nature’s availability. This, of course, had a flip side to it. Agriculture was highly dependent on the weather, favorable soil and the absence of pests. From trying to escape wild animals, the focus after the Agricultural Revolution turned to driving away wild animals and praying to the natural elements for a favorable harvest.

How did they manage to survive all this?

Farmers of the past practiced subsistence farming. Everything that was grown and maintained in the farm was purely for the farmer and the farmer’s family needs. There was little left to give away, and so they didn’t. The economy was very much local. People traded the little surplus they had for small pleasures of life.

Subsistence farming was developed by mimicking nature. In nature, diversity rules. The resilience of an ecosystem depends on how diverse it is, allowing it to buffer unfavourable conditions and ensures that one bad day/season/year did not destroy every living being in the ecosystem. So, farmers used techniques like crop diversification, crop rotation, shifting cultivation and generous but controlled use of grazing to ensure a healthy diet.

The rise of monocultures

Being a farmer comes with additional qualities. You start to notice tiny things in the environment. Things like, “Well, potato grows better in my land than other vegetables!” or “The wine from my vineyard tastes so much better than my neighbor’s!”

When farmers began to notice that their land seemed more suited to one kind of activity than the other, they began to slowly increase that activity in their land. Over time, majority of the land was devoted to that one activity. A mutual agreement was reached with people around their land; one farmer grows one kind of crop in large numbers, which can then be exchanged for what other farmers were growing. And thus was born, the concept of monocultures.

This method, no doubt came with its perks. By focusing on one crop or activity, the bounty from the land increased manifold. The generation of this surplus allowed people to exchange their commodity for various others in the market. Over time, the surpluses grew so much that some people didn’t even have to work! They could just depend on other farmers to provide what they needed to eat.

But how would they pay for this in return?

Trade and Urban Centers

As people were freed from farms, the services industry bloomed. People could now devote their free time towards other activities like pottery, music, and garments, to name a few. These people flocked to centers where markets developed and there was an opportunity to practice alternative occupations and have an outlet for these activities. One of the major differences between rural and urban areas is that urban areas are service-dominated, and it is the place where the market is located. Thus, the rise of urban centers.

The development of urban centers is often seen as the epitome of an empire. This is when trade and commerce bloom and people become more prosperous. But this is all dependent on the initial decision of farmers to shift from subsistence farming to surplus farming.

As trade blooms, the demand for some crops from some regions increases. For example, Eastern Europe during the Roman Empire grew on the back of olive and wine trade. That was their single biggest commodity and would generate everything else they needed from this exchange. Similarly, Cretans in ancient Greece were known for their wine.

And so, farmers practicing monoculture also turn to intensive agriculture. They grew more crops in less time, sometimes even multiple crops a year. They modernized techniques and broke new land. They cut down forests to increase their crop size.

As a consequence of more available food, people reproduced more, migrated to cities and continued to rely on the bounty coming from the farms. Population in urban areas grew to sizes that were not common in prehistoric times.

When everything starts to go wrong…

However, this change towards monocultures and reliance on trade also spelled doom for all of these empires and civilizations. The problem with monocultures is that with one crop failure, the entire source of income that the farmer has is lost. With no income, they cannot trade.

Time and again, from Greece to Rome to Indian empires, we see that famines have been a huge reason for death and destruction. A famine is only deadly because it wipes out all food sources from a region. The fact that the entire region grows just one food source, makes the process a whole lot easier.

Largely, three reasons lead to the downfall of monoculture and intensive agriculture-

  • Intensive agriculture leads to loss of fertility

The land can only take so much of the same thing. Loss of forests, plantations of the same crop and overexploitation lead to the problems of nutrient depletion, soil erosion and the eventual decrease in the crop size.

To counter this, farmers did not step back and try to change their methods. Instead, they tried to more of the same thing.

  • The climate changes

With small changes in climate, the conditions to grow particular crops also change. This is never a problem when a farmer practices subsistence farming, since he/she can always simply rely on other options. However, if monocultures are grown, a few bad years can spell doom to an entire civilization.

  • The over-dependence of urban centers on the success of farms

And when farms fail, the entire economy on which the urban centers are built fails. Urban centers face acute food shortages and people die in the millions. Eventually, those who are left will need to move back to the farms to grow their own food.

Why does this matter now?

It matters becomes this is exactly what is happening now. With intensive agriculture and monocrops around the world, with a global market that eats food from every nook and corner of the world and a changing climate, we may be heading for a disaster like what has happened in the past.

The agricultural sector and industry is trying to counter the problems faced in this sector by using science and biotechnology. More powerful fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified crops are being introduced into the market to counter the effects of climate change and a growing population to feed. The world is expected to top out at 8 billion individuals by 2040. That is a huge number to feed. If science fails in this regard, the entire world market will collapse.

What is the solution?

The solution is simple: subsistence farming and local markets. The global world cannot be sustained when it comes to food security. It requires a local approach where people grow multiple crops in slightly larger numbers; numbers just big enough to trade in small localized markets.

However, this will also mean that more people will need to shift from urban to rural areas, to a more simple form of living with a little less luxury and a little more hard work. This means that the world economy, and the way policies shape countries, needs to change.

There is a lot of resistance to this. I wonder if we can rise up to this challenge.


All images from Google Images.

This article was inspired by “Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations” by Evan Fraser and Andew Rimas. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.

Saudi Arabia and UAE to Invest in India Making it a Base for Food Security

Saudi Arabia and UAE to Invest in India Making it a Base for Food Security

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United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have decided to make India as a base for food security for the countries and plan to invest in both organic and food processing industries, minister of commerce and industry and civil aviation Suresh Prabhu said on Sunday.

“This is happening at an interesting time because we just had made a policy for agriculture exports which has identified food items that can be exported,” he said.

He informed that this year the country would be producing 290 million tonnes of farm produce as per advance estimates, and 305-310 million tonnes of horticultural items.

“In the export policy, we have decided to remove all restrictions on organic products and processed products. Both the UAE and Saudi want to invest in both organic as well as food processing industries. This will be a win-win situation for the UAE, Saudi, and other GCC countries but also for us, particularly for our farmers, who want better prices to their produce,” he said.

India is one of the world’s leading food exporter. The country is already the largest producer of milk and the second largest producer of fruits.

India is expected to produce 290 million tonnes of agricultural products along with 310 million tonnes of horticultural products, according to advanced estimates.

The farm export policy will go a long way in reducing wastage, the minister said. On the Udan policy, he said the government will announce its phase III in the next few days, which will also focus on air cargo. On January 15, the government will be announcing the first air cargo policy, Prabhu added. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are keen to invest in all these infrastructure initiatives, he said.

Saudi Arabia has said it can make investment in logistics, food parks and make a sector-specific investment in food processing, Prabhu said. This will open a number of opportunities in Indian food and export sector.

The post Saudi Arabia and UAE to Invest in India Making it a Base for Food Security appeared first on BuzzOnEarth.

UAE aims for top 10 position in food security by 2021

UAE aims for top 10 position in food security by 2021

“Food security is without doubt one of humankind’s most pressing concerns and the issue is one that is felt particularly keenly in the UAE. Although considered food secure – primarily because it enjoys a high degree of economic and political stability – the UAE still faces significant challenges. These stem from its arid climate, its shrinking groundwater levels and the volatility of the wider region. Added to these geographic and geopolitical stressors is the country’s spectacular growth. As its population has expanded exponentially, increasing from about 300,000 in 1971 – the year the UAE was founded – to more than nine-and-a-half million today, the need to provide for its residents has increased correspondingly”, writes Mariam Al Mheiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Food Security.

“My responsibility as UAE Minister of State for Food Security is to ensure that the nation continues to enjoy an adequate food supply for its citizens as it develops and to elevate its current position of 31st on the global ranking for food security to the top 10 by 2021. In order to achieve this, we are championing trade facilitation and enabling technology-based production and supply of food. The initiatives to support strategic goals are anchored in diversification of supply, alternative supply sources, technology-enabled enhancement of local production and international trade links, among others. Thus, a major part of my mandate is involved in incorporating agricultural technology – also known as “AgTech” – into the country’s food security agenda. This agenda is enshrined in the UAE’s recent launch of its National Food Security Strategy.”

“Vertical farming is another AgTech component that my department is promoting and one that has been identified as offering a solution to the UAE’s food security issues. The concept involves plants being grown in vertically stacked layers in an indoor environment where environmental factors can be controlled. Vertical farms typically use artificial light, humidity regulation, temperature control and minimum use of pesticides, enabling the production of vegetables in large quantities all year round without the need for soil, sunlight and chemicals. The commercial applications of vertical farming are already being realised in the UAE, with the opening of the Gulf region’s first-of-its-kind facility in December 2017. Located in the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai, the 8,500sq ft farm produces 18 varieties of micro-greens, including rocket, kale, radishes, red cabbage, basil and mustard.”

Source

https://www.hortidaily.com/article/9062727/uae-aims-for-top-10-position-in-food-security-by-2021/

PA Announces Plans to Maintain Food Security Programs Through February Despite Federal Government Shutdown :: exploreClarion.com

PA Announces Plans to Maintain Food Security Programs Through February Despite Federal Government Shutdown :: exploreClarion.com

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania has announced its plan to maintain food security programs through February despite the federal government shutdown.

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller on Monday announced that February benefits for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will be dispersed on January 18, 2019, and will be available for use by January 19, 2019.

The early payment follows an announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notifying states that benefits will be fully funded for the month of February, but benefits must be paid early.

“SNAP is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Without it, 1.8 million Pennsylvanians would have greater trouble affording food for themselves and their families,” said Secretary Miller. “This early payment allows us to get SNAP recipients their benefits for February, but they will have to make this payment last for an undefined period as the shutdown continues.”

On January 8, 2019, DHS received notice from the USDA that February SNAP benefits will be fully funded, but that these benefits needed to be issued by January 20. DHS worked closely with its vendors and will be able to issue the February benefits to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on January 18. This early payment is SNAP recipients’ February benefit and will be the only benefit payment SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Recipients will not receive a payment on their regularly scheduled February payment date. DHS is sending a letter and/or email to SNAP recipients to notify them of this change.

Payments beyond February will be determined based on the availability of USDA funds. DHS is awaiting information from the USDA on plans for March benefits should the partial federal government shutdown continue.

“The partial federal government shutdown has real implications for millions of people in Pennsylvania and around the country who use SNAP to keep food on the table,” said Secretary Miller. “Changes in the way people get their benefits and uncertainty regarding future benefits creates confusion and concern that should be avoidable. The federal government must come to a solution so people who already face food insecurity do not continue to be caught in the middle of a situation that they did not create.”

DHS will continue to process applications for all benefits during the shutdown. Recipients should continue to report changes and submit any semi-annual reviews or renewals they receive during this period to not risk an interruption of their benefits in the future.

Clients with questions about their benefits can contact their local County Assistance Office or can call the statewide customer service center at 1-877-395-8930. Clients who reside in Philadelphia should call 1-215-560-7226.

For more information about DHS and its programs, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

Source

http://www.exploreclarion.com/2019/01/15/pa-announces-plans-to-maintain-food-security-programs-through-february-despite-federal-government-shutdown/

How is religion linked to food security? – Food Security and Food Justice

How is religion linked to food security? – Food Security and Food Justice

Food security is such a complex matter that incorporates many different factors. One of the not so obvious factors that relate to food is religion. Food security is most significantly impacted by non-secular factors such as a country’s economic status, environmental/geographical matters, political stability etc., but faith-based links still have their contributions. These contributions differ depending on the country at hand and their individual conditions.

How does religion increase food security in the UK?

There are religious outreaches within the UK that aim to alleviate hunger at both local and national levels. At a nationwide level is The Trussel Trust. This a UK charity that coordinates the only nationwide network of food banks in the country and is founded on Christian principles and inspired by the words of Jesus. They have over 1,200 centres across the UK and in 2017/18 gave 1,332,952 emergency food supplies to the hungry.

At a more local level is the Christian outreach City Church Sheffield, which organises the Jubilee Food Bank. Their aim is to help those who are struggling to buy enough food for themselves or their families’ through food boxes which are delivered to people in need.

Also within the UK, Sikh’s offer the service of langar. This is a community kitchen within every Gurdwara offering free hot meals each day for anyone and everyone. Thousands of people are fed through this Gurdwara service in the UK. Furthermore, two Sikh Langar charities have even received the ‘Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’, demonstrating the Sikh religion’s impact and contributions to feeding the hungry in the UK.

Moreover, religious leaders and faith groups within the UK have also taken action through liaising with political figures to deal with the root causes of hunger. For example, in 2014 over 40 Anglican bishops and 600 church leaders signed a letter attempting to deal with causes of food poverty, including low wages, rising food prices, and an inadequate welfare benefit safety net.

It is important to note that these organisations and provisions do not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, gender or age and will help any type of person that requires it. It goes without saying that food security is increased for many people due to this religious help – even if it is only temporary.

What about other, less developed countries?

However, just because in certain countries religion makes a helpful difference to the levels of food security it doesn’t mean that is the case worldwide.

For example, India is an example of a densely populated country with much higher levels of poverty than England and food security there is much lower despite the strong frequency of religious people and groups. According to this UN report, a shocking 194 million people starved for food in 2014-2015 in India. This is the case even with a vast number of religious organisations and practices trying to alleviate food insecurity. For example, the Golden Temple serves over 50,000 free meals every single day through langar, an immense amount but still not enough to put a dent in the levels of hunger present.

It must be questioned if religion in India is actually hindering food security rather than helping it. Dietary restrictions are a large part of Indian religions, for example, Hindus do not consume beef and Muslims forbid the consumption of pork– these are the two most prominent religions in India. Nevertheless, there are over 5 million stray cows freely roaming the streets of India. If there were no religious dietary restrictions could people in developing countries have increased levels of food security? Would they have easier access to food?

Of course, religion is by no means the sole cause of hunger in India but it is potentially contributing to the problem more than it is helping, unlike in other countries such as the UK. Should people in developing countries abide by religious dietary restrictions if so many of them are struggling to feed themselves? This would be a very drastic viewpoint to hold but is perhaps worth thinking about. Political instability, poverty, agricultural problems, and many other factors all contribute to food insecurity in developing countries and in comparison to them, religious dietary restrictions are only a minor contributor.

Globally, conflict is a major cause of food insecurity. What is often a major cause of conflict? Religion. Religious extremists can contribute to conflict escalation. They see radical measures as necessary to fulfil God’s wishes. Using Syria an example, the last few years has seen the country in turmoil with religious extremists playing a large part in this. Only last year it was found that over 10.5 million of Syria’s inhabitants were food insecure. Iraq is another country where there has been major conflict relating to religious ideology and according to the World Food Programme almost 75 percent of children under the age of 15 are working to help feed their families instead of attending school. There is no denying that the religious aspects of the conflicts within these countries, and others like them, may have significantly affected these statistics.

So what does this mean for food security?

Ultimately, although religion may in some places improve food-related conditions, it is not a religious obligation to do so and responsibility for food security should be at the hands of the state – not religions within the state. Help that religion provides is a bonus that comes from religion being present, not a preconceived obligation. Developing countries need much more help than religion alone could offer, and perhaps if some of their other internal issues improve, such as poverty or religious extremism, food insecurity may reduce. Even in more developed countries such as the UK, there is still much that needs to be done to increase food security despite the help that religion provides.

Non-secular efforts are what ultimately needs to be made to ameliorate the unacceptable levels of food insecurity that are present worldwide.

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Green Imperative: $1.1bn loan to create Jobs, food security- Zainab — Nigerian Pilot News

Green Imperative: $1.1bn loan to create Jobs, food security- Zainab — Nigerian Pilot News

Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, has stated that the $ 1
billion loan facility under the ‘Green Imperative’, which is one of the
products of the diversification initiatives of the Federal Government, will
create massive jobs, food security, and food self-sufficiency in all the 774
Local Government Areas of the nation.
Ahmed stated this yesterday in a statement signed by the Special Adviser
to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Paul Ella Abechi,
during official launch of the project by the Vice President, Prof Yemi
Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Meanwhile, expressing optimism about the positive results the loan will
yield under the ‘Green Imperative’ initiative in the agric sector, she said
there is no doubt that the project will transform economic landscape of the
country.
She maintained that nothing will deter President Muhammadu Buhari from
continuing with the diversification drive that is already yielding positive
results within three years, especially through the agricultural sector.
She also commended the Vice President’s commitment towards securing
the loan from Brazil following his personally held meetings with Team of
Experts from Brazil and his strong support for the project which has made
the launching of it a reality including the resilience demonstrated by the
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, who had
personally led Nigerian delegations to Brazil to initiate and develop the
project with the Brazilian ’think tank’ and relevant stakeholders.  
According to her the ‘Green imperative’ was designed to promote
agricultural mechanization, create employment opportunities for the
energetic youth and help achieve food self-sufficiency and added that more
details about the project will be explained by the Minister of Agriculture and
Rural Development.

She said: “The project we are launching today will be implemented with a
total loan package of US$1.1billion majorly from the Brazilian Government
which will be disbursed in four tranches over a period of two years.
“l have no doubt that this project will help to ensure food self – sufficiency,
create more employment opportunities for our teeming population and also
help transform the economic landscape of Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to state here that greater percentage of the loan will be
provided in kind through the supply of agricultural machineries and
implements in form of Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts.
“This arrangement is expected to reduce fiduciary risks and create more
employment opportunities for our teeming youth and those that will be
involved in assembling the machineries and implements.
“Another important benefit of the project is that its implementation will be
purely private sector led in all its operations including the assembling of the
machineries/ implements, operation of the service centres and the agro-
processing centres.
“The project will be implemented in all the 774 Local Government Areas of
the country in phases. Let me use this opportunity to sensitize the Nigerian
private sector, youth and women to get ready for business. The selection of
the participants in this project will be done on merit as our concern is
nothing but the success of the project. We will ensure that participation is
devoid of politics and any form of nepotism.”
The Minister also commended the Brazilian government’s support and
commitment to the project.
“Let me at this point thank the Government and people of Brazil for their
support and commitment to this project. Nigeria and Brazil have similar
climatic and soil conditions that make Brazilian agricultural implements
easily adaptable in Nigeria. I understand that a tractor manufactured in
Brazil in 1946 is still in use till today.
“This is the kind of technology that we will need in this country. I do hope
such rugged tractors are what you will deploy for this project. I will like to
express my appreciation to other partners like the Deutche Bank and

Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit
(ICIEC) for their support in this project”, she stated.

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National Council for Women Societies, NCWS, in conjunction with Travel Marketing Partners has concluded arrangements…

A Nigerian research chemist based in the United States, Prof. Kayode Fakinlede, in his book…

A Nigerian research chemist based in the United States, Prof. Kayode Fakinlede, in his book…

What Does a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants Mean for Food Security? – Food Security and Food Justice

What Does a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants Mean for Food Security? – Food Security and Food Justice

On 17th December 2018, the UN General Assembly passed a Declaration that aims to protect the rights of all rural populations including peasants, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples. One right it has specifically recognised is the right to adequate food alongside rights to land and water. This is because there is mounting evidence, according to the FAO, that shows there is disproportionate suffering from hunger and poverty in rural areas. They also say that this declaration is expected to have a positive impact on the livelihoods of family farmers who produce over 70% of the world’s food.

The process was started by a small group of countries led by Bolivia and inspired by La Via Campesina, under the recognition that contributions of people working in rural areas to development, conservation and improvement of biodiversity constitute the basis of food and agricultural production throughout the world. It was also recognised that ensuring the right to adequate food and food security is fundamental to attaining internationally agreed development goals and that the concept of food sovereignty has been used in many regions to designate the right to define food and agriculture systems as well as the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecological and sustainable methods.

Previously:

The main universal source for the right to food is the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights where it is found within Article 11 but not solely focused on. It is given as one part of a right to an adequate standard of living which is the same way it is worded in the Declaration of Human Rights. At least in ICESCR it is expanded upon within the same article as everyone having the right to be free from hunger which means countries should take measures to improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making use of technical and scientific knowledge, by spreading knowledge of nutritional principles, and by developing or reforming agrarian systems so as to achieve the most efficient development and utilisation of natural resources. There is nothing about land-use rights but the mention of agrarian systems could have been utilised for peasants and food security, but it is not explicitly for this purpose. The Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights also clarified issues with Article 11 such as the right to adequate food being realised through physical and economic access to adequate food or means for its procurement, which is the definition of food security.

Elsewhere, had peasant movements wished to frame their struggles on a basis of the right to food, they could not have used the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, even if they were indigenous, because the right to food does not exist within it. It gives indigenous peoples rights over the use of their traditional lands and is convinced that this will enable them to maintain and strengthen institutions, cultures and traditions. This could be interpreted as including agricultural methods but at most this is a weak link, and obviously not one that peasants were utilising nor one that helps their food security.

The New Declaration:

The Right to Food is found in Article 15 and grants those working in rural areas the right to adequate food and the right to be free from hunger. Differently to the right to food in previous documents, this Declaration includes the right to produce food as well as the right to adequate nutrition, both of which are vital for food security in rural areas as is the right to determine their own food and agriculture systems. Also positive for food security are the obligations placed on governments;

to ensure peasants have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient and adequate food that is produced and consumed sustainably and equitably, respecting their cultures, preserving access to food for future generations and that ensures a mentally and physically fulfilling and dignified life in response to their needs

to take measures to combat malnutrition in rural children through primary healthcare, technology, education, provision of adequate nutritious food to the children and to women during pregnancy and lactation.

Another article in the new Declaration provides peasants with the right to seeds meaning that they have;

The final point there is the most important and marks an amazing shift in food security as family-farmed produce will be more sustainable and accessible due to a new ability to keep their seeds. The recognition of these rights at the international level was necessary to overcome the imbalance of rights pertaining to seeds and to reaching a decent level of food security and sovereignty as well as sustainable agriculture goals.

The Future:

This Declaration hopefully marks the beginning of positive change for peasants and other rural workers because there is now a mechanism of rights specifically for their use. It is important that the Declaration includes the right to food because it has been noted in the past that peasant movements were making use of human rights in their struggles but not the right to food, even though it existed in other international instruments. The inclusion of the right to food, and the right to seeds, in the Declaration should mean that peasant movements will utilise it now as it has been drafted in a way that is useful for them. This should improve food security in rural areas for those who produce 70% of the world’s food and, in turn, food security for those receiving their produce.

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Meat and Sustainability – Food Security and Food Justice

Meat and Sustainability – Food Security and Food Justice

Over the past few years, the consumption of meat has been soaring to great numbers. Meat is among the most consumed foods in the world with the per capita meat consumption increasing by 20kg from 1961. But have you ever asked yourself what impact eating this meat has on the environment?

With each person across the world consuming around 43 KGs of meat per year, this means that every other year over ten million animals die. However, as much as slaughtering these animals is benefiting the environment and maintaining a balance, the demand for meat has caused the rearing of more livestock. Therefore, this has had a great impact on the environment and the atmosphere in general because meat mainly comes from animals.

The linkbetween meat and the environment

Meat comes from animals which are mostly herbivorous, meaning that they have to eat plants to grow. The product is a type of food, making it a major basic necessitythat we as human beings require to survive. It helps with the development of our body and makes certain that we have the necessary energy to live, work, play, interact and function or operate our daily routines. Without food, chances are that we would be non-existencebecause we have to eat to live.

The link between meat and the environment is mainly seen in where it is gotten from. Meat is from animals which are either taken care of by people or from the forests. However, these animals require food too and most of them eat plants that grow from the soil. Plants are responsible for the production of foods such as beans, maize, peas, vegetables, and fruits among others while animals are responsible for foods such as milk, eggs, and meat. With the growing population of the world, the demand for food has been growing significantly. Plants require soil to grow and based on the over-cultivation of most lands, there has to be additional fertilizers and chemicals to help the plants grow. Most of these chemicals, despite them being effective for plant production are impactful to the environment in regards to the soil that they are put in, the air, and also water. For instance, fertilizers contain nitrogen-basedgases which are a threat to the Ozone layer and a contributive element of the greenhouse effect. It is no doubt that the food system contributes around 20-30% of the global human-made greenhouse gas emissions that deplete the Ozone layer.

Impact of extensive meat consumption

Regions that have a lot of livestock have experienced devastating impacts on their atmosphere. In regions such as Australia, livestock rearing contributes to around 40% of the Greenhouse emission gasses hindering the sustainability of the earth. With these continuing trends, the lives of those that will come after are under threat and there will have to be other sources of food production since the ground might be too much affected. As discussed within the module, the consumption patterns DRIVE production sees mainly the use of land where it begins from the input of fertilizers, manure and pesticides to land use through farming and then later on to the transport, processing, food preparation and waste disposal. These later stages also contribute around 5-10% of the global GHG emissions while the input stages contribute to around 14.5%. With these values, farming and food production by itself is a threat to the sustainability of the earth in the long run.

The demand for meat is evidently clear to come from the rising population across the globe and this is limiting the biodiversity aspect greatly. The rise in population is causing an increase in the demand forfood more so the resource-intensive foods such as meat and this haveled to increasedbiodiversity losses. Meat comes mainly from animals such as cows, sheep, and goat among others. The animals require plant material to survive and as such, leading to the agricultural expansion in areas that were not cultivated before. The creation of new land is often used to feed livestock and also plant crops, factors that are leading to encroachment of land and fragmentation of the ecosystems (FCRN Foodsource, 2019). Over the last 40 years, forinstance, the pressures from cultivation, pasture, infrastructure, and forestry have been driving biodiversity low impacting the sustainability of the earth. Livestock also producesmethane gas which is a contributive agent to the GHG gases that impact the sustainability of the earth. This is another example of how the food system is impacting the sustainability of the earth in general.

What can be done?

Meat is a fraction of the various foods that are available to human beings. Furthermore, studies have proved that eating meat frequently can be unhealthy. Therefore, instead of having to overgraze and rear a lot of livestock that will impact sustainability, we can focus on planting more trees to counter the gasses produced by these animals. Trees are essential in removing Carbon from the air and other gases and as such, this can make certain that there arelesser GHG emissions.

Additionally, there ought to be some creation of awareness about sustainability. Adopting the sustainability intensification strategy that focuses on addressing the impact that the food system, inclusive of cattle rearing has had on climate change. With the rising global population and the demand for food, which is both, directly and indirectly, impacting climate change, sustainable intensification has been considered as being effective to some degree or angle. With sustainable intensification, the focus is mainly on “simultaneously raising yields, increasing the efficiency with which inputs are used and reducing the negative environmental effects of food production” (Foresight, 2011). The increase in yield will cover for the increase in demand forfood while the increase in efficiency and reduction in the negativeeffects of food production will cater tothe reduction in GHG emissions. It is a modern way of farming that is more directed towards the realizationof sustainability.

As a people, we owe it to our future generations to take care of the environment and that will not happen if we continue to keep more and more livestock. We have to focus on building up sustainability in any way possible because the state at which the earth is right now, it is deteriorating fast.

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‘The rich man’s disease’ and parities fast food: the link between obesity and the fast food epidemic – Food Security and Food Justice

‘The rich man’s disease’ and parities fast food: the link between obesity and the fast food epidemic – Food Security and Food Justice

In the twentieth century,Fast food emerged to affect the lifestyle of all mankind. The merits of fast food as quickness, convenience, fair price, and deliciousness attract people of all ages. However, fast food also has the properties of high-sugar and high-calorie, which makes it the culprit for pervasive obesity. In the United States, for example, 15% of every American’s dietary intake comes from fast food restaurants, which is exactly the same as the growing obesity rate. Once obesity and diabetes have been considered rich diseases, but now they are rising in low-income groups due to the excessive sugar and calorie intake from fast food. Compared with these groups, the current middle class and upper class are not in such high Incidence rate of the relevant disease caused by obesity. Moreover, the area with dense fast food restaurants normally has relatively high obesity rates for local residents. The connection between these two factors is worth exploring and the problem of the growth rate of obesity is needed to be solved.

Poison wrapped in sugar-coating: Fast Food

There is a documentary called “Super Size Me” in the United States which truly records the bad impacts of fast food on a healthy person. Morgan, the male hero, is a healthy man who has no significant bad habits such as smoking and drinking and no heart disease or diabetes. Besides, all the bodily data from the medical examination is in the normal state. The experiment began with 30 days of eating only McDonald’s under the supervision of five different experts and doctors. Within 30 days, he would eat three meals a day at McDonald’s and accept all the largest meal recommended by the seller, and he could not eat anything that McDonald’s did not sell.

In the United States, the branches of McDonald’s are all over the whole country: airports, supermarkets, gas stations, and even hospitals will have their presence, which accounts for 43% volume of the fast food market. Morgan lives in New York where averagely, four McDonald’s per square mile, so he can easily buy McDonald’s by just a few steps.

On the third day of the experiment, Morgan started vomiting because of stomach discomfort and stomach pain, but Morgan became addicted to McDonald’s just three more days later. According to the nutritionist’s assessment, his daily calorie intake is twice of the normal need of the body. Morgan gained 7 pounds more weight in just five days. The reason for addiction, doctors explained, is because McDonald’s products contain a huge amount of sugar, which stimulates the exciting area of the correlative brain spots. The function theory of this addiction is just the same as heroin.

Over the 30 days, Morgan totally intakes around 27-kilogram amount of sugar, so the daily intake of sugar amount is nine times of the recommended sugar intake amount from world health organization. Correspondingly, the fast food with high calorie and high sugar brought the bodily harm to him as the following:

Therefore, according to the results of this documentary, the harm from fast food is significantly huge for the human body.

The relation among obesity, community, and income

The government of United States plans to spend around $860 billion on health care by 2030 because of the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with obesity, which will greatly increase the medical burden. The researchers set out to analyze how rising rates of obesity are affected by society and per capita income. Although a unified conclusion has not been reached, more and more studies have shown that the distribution of different food types in communities can affect the growth rate of obesity, and there is a high incidence of obesity in areas with dense fast-food restaurants.

In addition, the location of fast food restaurants mostly concentrates in low-income communities, and the dense environment of fast food restaurants will affect people’s consuming behavior. In my opinion, low-income families pay more attention to efficient and cheap food to feed their stomach, so fast food restaurants can perfectly meet their needs. Reversely, the higher income families pay more attention to the quality of life and health, and fewer fast-food restaurants in the areas with high housing prices, so the obesity rate grows fastest among low-income families, and what used to be “the disease of the rich” becomes “the disease of the poor”.

How to improve the situation

Los Angeles issued a fast food ban in 2007, banning independent fast food restaurants in southern Los Angeles from constructing or expanding since 2008. Since most of the market is occupied by large enterprises like McDonald’s, it is not enough to forbid the establishment of independent fast food restaurants. Nevertheless, on the one hand, supermarkets and convenience stores could be promoted in low-income areas to replace most fast food restaurants. On the other hand, fast food restaurants have also begun to reform, adding vegetables and low-sugar, low-calorie items to their menus.

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The dairy industry is feeding you lies: the truth about milk – Food Security and Food Justice

The dairy industry is feeding you lies: the truth about milk – Food Security and Food Justice

Milk doesn’t come from cows grazing peacefully in fields of buttercups with calves by their sides. In most cases, this could not be further from the truth.

From a young age, our parents always encouraged us to drink milk so we’d get strong bones. As we grew older, there was no shortage of adverts of kids happily drinking milk sporting white mustaches. For decades the dairy industry has pushed the agenda of drinking milk and the necessity of milk in a healthy diet. But is it really healthy and does it really build strong bones? When we think of milk, we think of happy cows roaming around in green fields because that is what we are taught to think. However, is there a reason why nobody ever talks about how milk is produced?

Adverts have played a huge role in shaping our view about milk. The above example shows a Cadbury’s advert that is used to normalize milk as most people only have positive connotations when thinking of chocolate. However, the advert does not show the bigger picture behind the production of milk, the industry and media are brilliant in covering up the truth by distracting and convincing consumers to think milk is healthy.

Is milk really healthy?

Recently, there’s been many studies on milk and how it impacts human health. In 2001, a Harvard study found that men having 2 1/2 servings of dairy products daily had a 34% increased risk of prostate cancer and another study found that men having more than 3 or more servings of milk a day had a 76% increased risk of total mortality. Studies since have found that there is a clear link between milk and prostate, colon and breast cancer. Does milk actually strengthen bones? Studies have found that milk causes osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile. A report found that children who consumed the most amount of milk actually had more bone fractures than children who consumed less. Maybe the fact that 65% of the world population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy should be a reason itself to not consume cow’s milk. The dairy industry also fails to inform the consumers that the cows are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Most cows in the dairy industry are given growth hormones, causing their udders to become unnaturally big and heavy, resulting in frequent infections. Of course, telling us this wouldn’t exactly increase their sales.

Is drinking milk ethical?

When comparing the meat and dairy industry together, some would say that the dairy industry is more ethical as it doesn’t directly kill any animals. Is drinking milk really more ethical than eating meat? Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of what they are eating and ethical concerns surrounding the dairy industry is being expressed more, especially with veganism on the rise.

Farmers have been selectively breeding cows around 200 years, this is when certain cows with desirable characteristics are chosen to produce offspring with the same genetic characteristics. This has led dairy cows to produce 10 times more milk than what they would naturally. Dairy cows can only produce milk when pregnant and therefore they are continuously artificially inseminated by farmers. Even after giving birth they are made pregnant again just two to three months after delivery. In order for humans to drink milk, calves are taken away from their mothers so they don’t drink the milk. Calves are instead fed a commercial milk replacer rather than being fed the milk from their mother which is meant for them. As it is the female cows that produce milk, male calves are seen as useless in the dairy industry and so they are placed in crates and raised as veal, only to be slaughtered a week after it was born.

If even a farmer can’t face the slaughter of a one-week-old calf, what does this say about the ethics of dairy farming? While it doesn’t directly kill an animal, it indirectly kills the offspring and it begs the question of whether milk is ethical when considering the process and production of milk. If adverts conveyed the truth about the dairy industry, people would be more hesitant when buying milk products. The vegan community on social media came up with their own version of Cadbury’s “glass and a half” advert to bring awareness to the lies that the dairy industry feeds its customers.

So what are the alternatives to milk?

There’s a whole variety of plant-based milks including soy, almond, coconut, hazelnut, oat, cashew, rice, and even hemp and quinoa. Plant-based milk contains preventative compounds that have a protective effect against various diseases that are caused by cows milk, including various cancers and osteoporosis. It’s been proven that oat milk and soy milk can decrease cholesterol levels and in general plant-based milks are thought to have a better nutritional value than cows milk. In reality, the nutritional value varies greatly and is dependent on the raw material, processing, fortification, and the presence of other ingredients such as sweeteners and oil. Regardless, there is a need for the dairy industry to be transparent and present the facts surrounding milk both in terms of how healthy milk really is and how ethical it is, only then can consumers make an informed choice. In addition, plant-based milks are better for the environment as it uses up less natural resources than cows milk. Choosing plant-based milk is a win-win as it’s better for your health, environment and your conscience!

Next time you fancy a glass of milk, why not try oat milk instead?