… as you may have guessed if you clicked through here, I´m celebrating Food Day on Friday, Oct 24, with you despite sitting in Brussels at the moment. Why? Well, first of all, because I love any reason to celebrate with Belgian chocolate (check out this post to learn more about how it’s made and the difficulties of sourcing fair trade cocoa!) …
… but more importantly, because fair access to healthy and sustainable produced food on the one hand, and fair working conditions for the people growing that food on the other hand, are two priorities that we all share. Thus, I was delighted to participate in Food Day’s blogging event, which asked bloggers from around the world to write about Food Day on Tuesday so that everybody would be up and ready to get involved this coming Friday! Yay blogger love!
The focus of this year’s Food Day is particularly well-chosen in my opinion because food justice is still so seldom raised among the issues of concern in the food policy world. What we hear about is efficiency; the need to feed the world, whichever way possible; and from time to time lip service is paid to the fact that clean water and healthy soils are the basis of all our agricultural exploits, so maybe we should introduce some environmental protection as well. It is true, in Europe – maybe even more strongly than in the United States – we have had a history of supporting our farmers through income support and price guarantees, but even this ‘fairness’ between the city and the countryside came on the back of unjust exportation subsidies and dumping on the world market which contributed to the destruction of local markets elsewhere.
The mere word ‘justice’, however, eliminates the consideration of such one-sided steps. This is why it is such a powerful concept – and one that has been missing from the rhetoric on the international stage for all too long, as George Perkovich has so eloquently expressed in his opinion piece ‘Giving Justice Its Due‘. He focuses on security concerns, but explores quite rightly the serious consequences of ignoring distributional justice for too long:
The perceived unfairness of international economic rules today roils almost every society, adding fuel to the fire of other grievances. The challenge, therefore, is to portray globalization — and the Western economic liberalism that spawned it — in a different light or to correct its injustices. After all, as a Dubai business magnate once said, “it doesn’t matter what you call it, democracy or anything else. What people want above all else is economic development, a way to make a living, transparency and justice. If this is achieved, they don’t care what you call the system.”
In our globalized food system, this is a particular struggle. I have written about the orange cartel, which keeps prices artificially low; cocoa farmers who experience the taste of chocolate for the first time in their life; the fight for fair tomato prices in Florida; and other issues related to food justice. This infographic, provided by Food Day, sums up the issues in the USA quite nicely:
What to do to advance food justice in policies? First and foremost, in my opinion agricultural and food policy is still too often regarded as a niche issue – to be debated between farmers’ representatives and the big lobbying interests – and too seldom made into a democratic grassroots agenda that parties could mobilize around. Yet, how our food is being grown, and will be grown in the future, is an issue that affects each and every one of us in the most direct of ways – it might decide over hunger or satiety, sickness or health, and the integrity of the environment surrounding us.
In addition, I think it’s important to resensitize ourselves to the true cost of food, and the fact that cheaper goods often externalize (environmental, social or health) costs that will have to be borne by society in the long run. I am happy to get a bag of organic veggies from a CSA, a fair trade bar of chocolate or a bakery bread that is a bit more expensive if in return I am sure to get good-quality goods that were produced under conditions respecting both the workers and the environment. Yes, the labeling of certain production standards has its challenges, but I still think we as consumers cannot ignore our responsibility in supporting an alternative production system. The first law of economics is still the law of demand and supply – and more demand for fair goods will hopefully create a signal in the market place that this type of system, a just system for all contributors to the food chain, is the one we want.
Happy Food Day! And check out the Food Day homepage for a lot more information, including these awesome resources, and a look at the other blogs written by the cool and super talented authors participating in Food Day’s Coordinated Blogging Event:
- Celebrate Food Day! by Kath, RD posted on Kath Eats Real Food
- When it Comes to Our Kids’ Diets, Let’s Get Real by Gillean Barkyoumb, MS, RDN posted on Food & Nutrition
- Celebrating Food Day 2014 by Barbara posted on Morning Berries
- Food Day 2014 blog post by Kenan Hill posted on Kitchen 1204
- Healthy Food for School Food Day blog post by Sally posted on Real Mom Nutrition
- Food Day 2014 – join the fun in Mundelein and Chicago!!! by Lindsey Shifley posted on to the mullies…
- Happy Food Day (Week) from the Land of Chocolate and Fries by Janina Grabs posted on Food (Policy) For Thought
- Why Organic Matters blog post by Andy Bellatti, MS RD posted on Eating Rules
- The True Cost of Your Food by Nancy Chen posted on Spoon University
- Teach Kids to Cook, Eat and Lead Healthier Lives by Katherine Baker posted on Spoon University
- Millennials May Be “Foodies” But Are They Food Illiterate? by Zoe Holland posted on Spoon University
- Arugula, Walnut, and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Portobellos and Food Day by Justin Fox Burks posted on The Chubby Vegetarian
- Food Day blog post posted on Sankofa Speaks Blog
- It’s Food Day blog post posted by National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- The Future of Heritage Breeding by Eliza MacLean posted on Barnraiser
- 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Food Company by Lisa Curtis posted on Barnraiser
- 5 Reasons to Savor Specialty Coffee This Food Day by Mark Inman posted on Barnraiser
- The Future of School Gardens by Benjamin Eichorn posted on Barnraiser
- Food Day 2014: The Future of Food, collection edited by Barnraiser
- Waste Not, Want Not: How Ordinary Home Cooks Can Help Prevent World Hunger; Autumn’s Harvest and Food Day; Waste Not, Want Not Quick Health Saver Tip; Waste Not, Want Not: Quick Dessert Idea; Waste Not, Want Not: Reflections; Waste Not, Want Not Recipe: Ginger Cardamom Green Beans; Waste Not, Want Not: 5 Tricks for Cooking Not Tossing Bitter Foods by Mary Collette Rogers posted on Everyday Good Eating
- Scantily Clad Photos and Burgers by Denise the Dietitian posted on A Dietitian’s Diary: Finding a Healthy Balance