In this terrific Globe & Mail op-ed, Raj Patel (research professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin) and Nick Saul (President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada) masterfully explain how and why hunger is a poverty problem, rather than a food-deficit problem.
This is particularly important in light of the incessant “we need to grow more food” message that many industry players push. It’s great for their bottom line, but it simply is not going to do much to solve actual hunger.
Besides, as current food waste statistics clearly show, we grow more than enough food. It’s distribution and access that needs urgent fixing.
- “Instead of focusing our attention on how to repurpose wilting veggies into soup for the homeless, or grocery-store throwaways into meals for poor families, let’s resolve to think big in 2017 and challenge the notion that food waste can be the solution to hunger. Because the idea is just plain wrong.”
- “True, North Americans waste a spectacular amount of food – 1520 calories per person per day, 42 per cent of all global food waste. There’s a case that turning what might have been garbage into delicious, finely flavoured dishes can help change people’s perception about the value of food. Think of it as a sort of trickle-down aesthetics. But, like trickle-down economics, it doesn’t change much. Instead, it reinforces the mistaken idea that the problem can be solved through the bellies and skillets of the poor, when in fact food waste begins much further upstream.”
- “In rich countries, waste happens as a result of a retail system that has overabundance baked into its business model, marketing machinery that has trained consumers to expect produce as unblemished as a geometry project, a food education system that doesn’t train us to cook with the seasons, and work demands that push consumers to buy food that, with the best of intentions, rots at the back of the fridge.”
- “In the United States, companies like ConAgra Foods, Darden and others see a public-relations win in their sponsorship of initiatives like the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Here in Canada, the National Zero Waste Council’s misguided push for a tax credit or deduction to businesses for donating their surplus food to food charities only serves to further entrench the idea that waste and poverty reduction are two sides of the same coin.”
- “Hunger will only ever be solved with transformative social policy. The millions of people going without food will only change with decent, liveable wages, affordable housing and strong social supports. These public policies can help people to live with health and dignity.”