Tomorrow is World Food Day, a day created by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, a day that’s dedicated to bringing awareness to the struggles of the 800 million people who go hungry every day. Thousands of people around the world will take action to fight hunger.
It’s too bad these two days didn’t coincide, because so many of the problems related to hunger are environmental, and so many of the solutions are ecological.
This past weekend Corrina Steward and Saulo Araujo participated in a forum on Biofuels called Food vs. Fuel. In her presentation, Corrina said “We’d all like to believe that there’s a simple, healthy alternative that will let the whole world continue to consume at our present levels, but it’s important to base our discussion today on the realities that have already irrevocably transformed landscapes and communities throughout the Global South. Today, the consequences of agrofuels for food security, rural livelihoods and communities are felt by millions of people and millions of acres of forest around the world, and the sad reality is that agrofuel production is already exacting a heavy cost on food security (I’m afraid I don’t have time to talk much about the human rights violations (thousands of cases of slavery discovered in Brazil this year) or the cost to the environment (from deforestation, over-irrigation, pesticide use etc.).”
You could say the same thing about most of the other miracle cures for hunger and for the environment: the green revolution was supposed to feed the world’s hungry has instead increased nutritional problems, driven self-sufficient farmers off the land, used up millions of gallons of precious water for irrigation and caused irreparable damage to the environment due to over-reliance on pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Meanwhile, there’s another way that we know works. Small farmers using agroecological methods can produce enough food for themselves and their communities. With just a little support (much less than the levels needed to subsidize the profits of multinational agribusinesses) they could easily feed the world, at much lower costs to the environment and to the world’s irreplaceable rural cultures.
So, today, on this day of action for the environment, think about the small farmers of the world who are feeding their families and neighbors without toxic chemicals. And tomorrow, on World Hunger Day, think about the environmental and social costs of your imported fruits and vegetables.