Sunday October 16th is World Food Day. On this day each year, nations and communities around the world focus on food security and the needs of underserved populations and family farmers.
It’s strange to imagine a world where very few people have enough food in order to be full and meet their daily nutritional requirements. Unfortunately, this is the reality for an estimated 805 million people across the world. The Food and Agriculture Department of the United Nations estimates that 24% of children globally are students in physical and cognitive growth due to a lack of proper nutrition. The majority of these children come from areas that face more issues that a lack of food security–drought, governmental collapse, pollution, homelessness, and conflict. However, it isn’t only children who suffer from a lack of food security. The elderly are also susceptible to going without adequate nutrition.
World Food Day isn’t just about the availability of food. Living in the United States, some people would argue that there is an abundance of food. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. Food security deals with more than the simple availability of something to eat. It deals with the quality, freshness, price, and nutritional value of the food that is available. When “food” is defined in these terms, it becomes easier to see that the statistic of approximately 1 in 4 children having inadequate nutrition is accurate. For a family of limited income, a meal at a fast food restaurant may be cheaper and feed more people in the family than a meal made at home from ingredients bought at the grocery store.
World Food Day seeks to raise awareness on the availability of affordable and nutritious food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. The celebration has focused in years past on the family farm. It is estimated that 98% of the farms around the world are still family farms. Some may be larger farms that feed into an industrial distribution, but the vast majority are small subsistence farms. This means that the family that is working the farm grows enough for themselves and little else, although some do supplement their income by selling surplus at farmer’s markets. In a world where we are used to having food at our fingertips—at least in America—it is easy to forget that the food has to come from somewhere before it gets to the grocery store or the restaurant.
And for that, we have farmers to thank. World Food Day seeks to open the eyes of the general public to the plight of those who often go without as well as those who give their time and energy to growing the food we eat. So, have you been hungry today? Have you had a filling meal?
If so, thank a farmer.