Future of Food and Farming Report and the Dinner Table

If you have not read the 2011 Future of Food and Farming Report published by the Government Office for Science in London, then you should.  Be prepared to feel mixed emotions of sadness and hope at that same time. It has astonishing information in it that clearly impacts everyone in the world, but it is obvious that the developed nations like the United Kingdom have a true responsibility for what is happening to food supplies around the world.

For example, one of the interesting statements points out that the majority of the economic value of food is added in during production and retail activity. The choices the consumer makes at the supermarket has a significant (the report goes so far as to use the word “profound”) influence on global food production. This in turn gives food production companies enormous influence in politics and society. Most people would not stop long enough to think about the fact that what is placed in the shopping bag can affect food production policies around the world.

Another interesting point is that the implications of not utilising technology should be considered, as well as the potential results of using it. What are the environmental considerations? This is tied to the shopping cart discussion because our food preferences and our use or non-use of technology each influence food production in terms of quantity and type, but together they have a double impact.

Disturbing information on food waste raised awareness of food inequities even more. The world wastes as much as 30 to 50 percent of food. Half! It is difficult to digest the fact that such a large amount of food is not consumed.

What truly makes it difficult is knowing how much hunger exists in the world. This report estimates that 925 million people in the world are hungry. Another billion people are lacking significant nutrients like vitamins and minerals, and that can lead to serious health problems.

You don’t need to look at only the numbers though. If you look at the headlines, it’s apparent that hunger has a face. In Somalia it has 3.6 million desperately hungry women, men and children who are the victims of poor global food choices, famine, war, corruption and poverty. Next time you shop at the supermarket, think about the fact that each person is influencing the world’s ability to feed itself by what you choose to buy that day. The future of so much depends on all of us making the right choices, but especially the younger generation. What you put in your grocery cart at your local London market affects how much food will be produced, what type of food will be produced, what means will be used to produce it, and whether the food supply will be sustainable.

Take the time to read the Future of Food and Farming Report. It is not just for policy makers. It is for those of us who can influence policy makers too. It is for those of us at the dinner table who are watching the thousands of Somalians streaming into refugee camps because they need food while sincerely hoping there is a solution now and in the future.

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