Why do my berries come from Chile? Why food and water will be responsible for the next big crime wave.

We live in a world where we no longer have personal ties to the people who produce our food. Our production practices have changed – here in Australia, if I go to my major supermarket to buy frozen berries, the most affordable ones for sale are imported from Chile, even though there are many berry farms in Australia.

Another example is Quinoa, a type of rice exported at a rapid rate to Western Countries. However, due to the demand in Western markets, Quinoa prices are inflated, and poorer Bolivians and Peruvians cannot afford what once was their own staple.  Instead, they now eat refined grains or junk food which are cheaper to buy, meaning they have a nutritional deficiencies as a direct result of demand from global markets.

The point of these examples is to illustrate the global context that we operate under. What we do in one country can, and does, have a direct impact on another.

Is a lack of water to blame for the War in Syria?

Due to a severe drought in 2006 in Syria, many people from rural areas migrated to the city centre. According to Aaron Wolf, as quoted in the Smithsonian, the now unemployed, unoccupied farmers helped ‘trigger a revolution’ in Syria, leading to the civil war we now see.

Turkey was a major player in the drought – with the construction of dams and hydro-power in Turkey leading to a 40% water reduction in Syria since 1975. Could the war, and greatest humanitarian crisis of our times, have been avoided if they had simply been able to access the water that previously was naturally available?

Food for billions

The World Food Bank is predicting that we need to produce 50% more food than what we currently have to meet demand by 2050 – there are 7.125 billion people in the world, with 9.6 billion projected by 2050.

What is clear is that we have enough food across the world – it just isn’t where its needed. Across the world, over 1 billion are staving, and 1 billion have nutritional deficiencies due to lack of access to appropriate food.So we already have 2 billion people who do not have sufficient food security, with 2 billion more people on the way.

So what can we do about it?

Make your dollar count. 

Our Western dollar is powerful. Even though we are a smaller country compared to America and the United Kingdom, we do influence global markets.

You can shop local. This ensures that your own country continues to produce food, and wil be supported.

Eat your food – and don’t waste it. We waste about 20% of our food in Australia, simply due to not eating it by the due date.

You can grow your own food, or support sustainable farming practices. This can be done by doing the above three things, but you could also changed your super and investments to support good farming practices.

Finally, really question where things are coming from. Logistically it makes no sense that we import berries from overseas, when we have berry farms in Australia. Obviously there is a profit for Australian importers and exporters, however at what cost is that? Are we pricing our own suppliers out of the market, making us dependent on overseas sources for food by doing this? And are we taking supply away from people in Chile by pricing them out of their own berries? I don’t have the answer to these questions, but these are questions we need to start asking to ensure our food supply is consistent and sustainable in the future.

In summary: We have over 7 billion people in the world. We already have a food problem for 2 billion people. We have 2 more billion people expected by 2050. We have enough food for everyone – it just isn’t where its needed.

How do we feed an extra 2 billion when 2 billion do not have enough food?

One, shop locally. Two, don’t waste food. Three, grow your own food. Four, check your super and investments – make sure they reflect your own lifestyle choices.

Thanks for reading! Comments are most welcome.

Emma x

Further reading:

Why the next world war will be fought over food




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