Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food for thought

A snack with dad Esa
My first memory of food is that it’s something to be thankful for.

Indeed, from as far as I can remember, and following in my dad Esa’s lead, we never left the table or had something to eat without thanking my mom Vicky and God by saying Nushkur Allah (thank God).

Food is to be shared. At home, there was rarely a day when we ate alone. Friends always dropped by, knowing they would be welcome at our table.

Food is not to be wasted. By learning how precious it is while growing up, our plates were always wiped clean and I keep this habit to this day.

Food is all the more precious when you go without. This is something we experienced in Beirut in 1982 during the Israeli invasion. We learned how to make-do by sharing a can of tuna or the famous blue tins of Kraft processed cheese.

Food is precious on a low budget. In such cases, a packet of spaghetti can go a long way.

Why am I talking about food? It’s Blog Action Day -- the annual event when bloggers worldwide unite to write about one important global topic on the same day. 

For the past four years topics have included water, climate change and poverty. Over 10,000 bloggers took part. This year’s theme is Food, to coincide with World Food Day.

World Food Day is celebrated each year on October 16 in honor of the date of the founding in 1945 of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

FAO proclaimed it in 1979 to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. In 1980, the General Assembly supported observance of the Day because "food is a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity." (Resolution 35/70 of 5 December 1980). 

Price swings, upswings in particular, are a major threat to food security in developing countries. Hardest hit are the poor. According to the World Bank, rising food costs in 2010-2011 pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty. 

“Food prices – from crisis to stability” was chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme to shed light on this trend and on ways to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.
The objectives of World Food Day are:
  • To encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and nongovernmental efforts to this end
  • To encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries
  • To encourage participation by rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions
  • To heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world
  • To promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world, and
  • To strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.
We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, while too much is causing a host of health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living.

World Food Day says the way companies produce food and drinks can provide important jobs for communities or be destructive to habitats and local food producers. Food can give energy to get through the day or contain ingredients that gives allergic reactions.

Food is important to our culture, identity and daily nourishment. And the aim of Blog Action Day is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around this important issue that impacts us all. By writing about Food on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the Web and focuses audiences globally on that issue. Hopefully, out of this discussion, ideas, advice, plans, and action will flow.

Last year’s theme was Water. Some 5,600 bloggers from 143 countries reached more than 40 million readers with discussions on a broad range of water issues -- from river conservation, to the ethics of bottled water, the increasing privatization of water access and the water crisis in Africa .

Recognizing the major threat that food price swings pose to the world’s poorest countries and people, the international community, led by the G20, moved in 2011 to find ways of managing volatility on international food commodity markets. Stability in the food market depends on bigger investment in agriculture, particularly in developing countries, where 98 percent of the hungry live and where food production needs to double by 2050 to feed growing populations.

Global hunger, according to Action Against Hunger, affects nearly a billion people. Deadly acute malnutrition, on the other hand, affects 55 million children worldwide -- 19 million of whom face outright starvation.

One billion people live in chronic hunger. You can share in this day and sign the petition to end hunger. In the time it takes to watch the video below, two children will die of hunger. 

If you agree that this situation is unacceptable, make your voice heard by signing on to the 'I Agree' in this petition: 1 billion hungry Petition to end Hunger

Related post (Blog Action Day 2010):
A bucket of water – October 15, 2010