Day Five: For Food Security
I feel more conflicted about this one than I have about my previous gratitude topics. Not that food security is not a marvelous blessing–it truly is, in every sense of the word.
But I’m aware that all around me–in my community, across my nation, and around the world, there are many, many people who do not share this blessing.
To express public gratitude for it, in the knowledge of such widespread lack, almost feels like gloating. That’s not my intention at all. If I could, I’d extend this blessing to everyone in the world, so that no one anywhere has to go to bed hungry, or wonder where their next meal will come from.
Here in the USA, today is Thanksgiving. Everyone in the country is presumed to be eating their fill, then waddling into the next room to zone out in a “food coma” while watching American football games. However, despite the best efforts of community charities, not everyone will be able to do that. Statesman Jacques Diouf put it well:
Everyone alive should be acknowledged to have a basic human right to adequate, nutritious food. That this is ignored, pushed aside as inconvenient, left to the vaguaries of climate change, governmental style or unregulated capitalism, or even actively subverted so hunger can be used as a weapon is inexcusable. Yes, people have been doing it for millennia; it’s a crime against humanity every single time, in my opinion.
How can persons of conscience work to fight food insecurity? Acknowledging that we who can eat well are blessed, we can make charitable donations on both the local (link to find US agencies) and international (this link: UN) level to help fill immediate shortfalls.
But we also must advocate for longer-range goals:
- improving sustainable agricultural and fishery practices, because if it’s not sustainable, everyone will starve in the future;
- increasing the efficiency and speed of global food distribution, so there’s less waste;
- eliminating “food deserts,” both urban and rural;
- bolstering U.S. foreign aid, and making sure it gets to the correct recipients;
- improving the quality and scope of domestic programs that not only seek to keep everyone fed, but acknowledge their varying abilities to feed themselves (if you think “if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat” is a just demand, do you then believe that the disabled and the very young should all starve?).
Creating systemic improvement is a large, difficult goal, fraught with practical difficulties, cultural pitfalls, and unintended results. It also is desperately necessary, as long as people anywhere are hungry.
Creating changes in public opinion is a way to begin. Funding empirical studies by unbiased researchers is a reasonable step forward. Involving all involved parties in design of solutions is a reasonable, respectful necessity that is likeliest to result in the best solutions. Many initiatives have already begun. We all must work together to bring the best ones to fruition.
IMAGES: The “Seven Days of Gratitude” design is my own creation, for well or ill. If for some reason You’d like to use it, please feel free to do so, but I request attribution and a link back to this post. The “Food security definition” quote by Pattie Baker is from Quozio, via Pinterest; her book Food for My Daughters is available from Amazon Smile and other fine booksellers. The Jacques Diouf quote is identified as sourced from Live58, though I couldn’t find it on their site; I did find it on the website for GRIID (the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy). The quote from Ray Offenheiser of Oxfam America is courtesy of The Huffington Post, via Pinterest. Many thanks to all!