Sunday, October 16, 2011

World Food Day - think before you eat!

What better time to dust off the blog than to post regarding World Food Day.  When I read that phrase, I immediately think of food production and food insecurity in third world countries, but upon further contemplation, food insecurity in industrialized countries is an ever-increasing problem, too.  I know how incredibly fortunate I am not only live in a society where food of different types is readily available and easily affordable. I am also educated enough to know where my food comes from and how it is grown.

On a different angle, I can't help but think of the brief time I spent in Russia during my junior year of high school.  The difference in food culture from that of my own was significant in a number of ways.  Yes, food was prepared differently yet it was also presented differently.  During school, we sat down and were served our meals, usually in at least three courses. The idea of self-service was practically non-existent. I felt completely humbled by the hospitality, and wished we had been much more accommodating when my student, Julia, stayed with us.

Another facet of the hospitality shown by my host family was the fact that they purchased food items they would not normally buy to suit my palette. It is extremely difficult to fully ascertain the financial lengths they went to, but I have never forgotten it. This year, with the World Food Day discussion revolving around food prices and reducing the impact of their volatility, it's worthwhile to really step back and consider our consumption and its effects on others. We must also assess the factors that contribute to the expenses of food production and transportation of food goods to an increasingly urban planet.

Ultimately, food is provided by the earth, assisted by farmers' stewardship across the globe. Each of us need food for sustenance and growth; some of us consume more than we should, and yet, there are still too many people on this planet unable to meet their nutritional needs to survive and thrive. I don't know if we can solve the challenges of malnutrition and starvation, but we must continue to try.

For more information on World Food Day, be sure to check out the website of Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations.

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