Every year, October 16th marks World Food Day. The current global health crisis has been a time for everyone to reflect on the things we truly cherish, and our most basic needs. These uncertain times have made many of us think again about something a lot of us take for granted and that many go without: Food.
Food production and consumption is a basic function of our societies and communities. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food continues to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks.
In moments like this, it is more important than ever to recognize the people who work day and night, supplying our food chains. Food heroes – farmers and workers, who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to fork, even amid unprecedented hardships.
Time to build back better!
In recent decades, the world has been able to produce enough food to feed everyone. So why are we still seeing huge imbalances? Why are some people starving while others battle with obesity? Our food chains are out of balance! Environmental degradation, loss of agro-biological diversity, food loss and waste and a lack of security for food chain workers are only some of the issues that underline this imbalance.
As countries begin to bounce back and recover from COVID-19, we are faced with an opportunity like never before to adopt innovative solutions based on scientific evidence to build back better and improve food systems, making them more resistant to shocks.
World Food Day is calling for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers. This will require improved social protection schemes and new opportunities offered through digitalization and e-commerce, but also more sustainable agricultural practices that preserve the Earth’s natural resources, our health, and the climate.
What you can do?
Choose local - Whenever you can, support local food suppliers by buying locally grown fresh food, such as from a farmers’ market in your community. In doing so, you are helping small farmers that produced the food, your local economy and you are encouraging crop diversity.
Choose seasonal - Did you know that you reduce your carbon footprint when you buy produce that’s in season? When food is out of season in one part of the world it has to be imported and travel a long way before it arrives at your local market. Eating seasonal food can also be riper, tastier and more nutritious.
Grow food at home - If you have a green space at home, access to a garden, or a balcony with space for plant pots, you can learn how to grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs. You’ll learn a lot about how food is produced and grow your appreciation for all the work that goes into cultivating produce.
Choose healthy and diverse - A healthy diet contributes to a healthy life. When we choose to eat diverse foods, we encourage a variety of foods to be produced. This is not only healthier for our bodies, but healthier for soils and our environment because a diverse diet favors biodiversity!
Our food systems need to grow a variety of foods to nourish a growing population while sustaining the planet. We all have a role to play, from increasing the overall demand for nutritious food by choosing healthy, to not letting sustainable habits fall by the wayside.