You’ve seen the numbers: more than 925 million hungry. But hunger is not about too many people and too little food. Our rich and bountiful planet produces enough food to feed every woman, man, and child on earth. Hunger is about power. Its roots lie in inequalities in access to resources. The results are illiteracy, poverty, war, and the inability of families to grow or buy food.
Thus begins the October 2010 Oxfam Fact Sheet entitled Food for All, posted during Oxfam's Sow the Seed campaign.
Today marks the official launch of Oxfam's new campaign on food justice, GROW, which reminds us that by 2050 there will be 9 billion of us on the planet, and so we must find a way to feed everyone. The great international non-profit humanitarian organization Oxfam, 400+ scientists and researchers who contributed to the IAASTD report, and Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe from the Small Planet Institute agree: "more of the same" ways of growing food - vested interests, using up natural resources and increasing inequalities in access to healthy food - is not the answer. To meet the needs of a growing population, we must grow more fairly and sustainably.
But wait...there won't be enough food for all if we grow organically, you say. Industrial agriculture is more efficient than organic production. Sustainably, organically grown produce is elitist and cannot feed the world. If you are only talking about developed countries such as the US, which grows chemical-laden produce at the expense of environmental sustainability and then wastes vast quantities of it - then yes, a switch from conventional to organic production may either not affect or slightly decrease yields (the average yield ratio ranged from 0.891 to 1.060), according to a research study cited by Anna Lappe (Badgley, 2007). However, adopting sustainable farming practices in developed countries can increase ratios from 1.736 to 3.995 - nearly two to four times better than the farmers' previous practices. "Because most farming in these regions is currently low input and low yielding, shifting toward more climate-friendly organic agriculture with the help of capacity building and research would result in relatively higher yields and improve local food security," explains Anna.
All this and more you can learn by reading Oxfam's "Growing a Better Future" report by visiting the WHY Hunger Food Security Learning Center, or yes, by reading Diet for a Hot Planet, where Anna Lappe gives a ton of resources with useful information such as Food Routes, the Eat Local Challenge, and lists of some books such as the recipe books Grub and Vegan Soul Kitchen. I personally have been consuming less and less meat as my awareness and environmental consciousness raises, and vow to continue to learn more about vegetarian and vegan eating - especially after recently finishing Diet for a Hot Planet and watching the films Food Matters and PLANEAT.
If you're in NYC tomorrow, please come visit the Oxfam Action Corps NYC table at the southeast corner of Union Square between 12-8pm. If you're not, I hope you can tune in to the GROW launch where Frances Moore Lappe and some other panelists will speak about the campaign starting at 12:20pm.
Badgley, Catherine et al, "Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply," Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 22 (2007):86-108.