Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16, 2011 Blog Action Day--World Food Day: From the International to the Personal

Thanks to my participation in last year's Blog Action Day the theme of which was water, "Water: From Many Meanings to One--Life!", I received e-mail notification of this year's, the theme of which is Food, to coincide with the simultaneously occurring World Food Day. At first I was underwhelmed with the topic, since though extremely important, it is one where it is easy to fall into well worn albeit true paradigms like the overabundance of food in some parts of the world and starvation in others. Yet, there are certainly multiple dimensions to food in the global context, and even those paradigms take on new urgency and nuance within the changing circumstances across the globe. Within a short time of reading the list of suggestions for Blog Action Day posts, I had a number of ideas, seemingly constantly reinforced by reading the daily news.

Why Food?

This year Blog Action Day  coincides with World Food Day, a time that focuses the world’s attention on food, something we all have in common.
There is so much to say about food.
We use food to mark times of celebration and sorrow. Lack of access to food causes devastating famines, whilst too much is causing a generation of new health problems. It can cost the world, or be too cheap for farmers to make a living.
The way we companies produce food and drinks can provide important jobs for communities or be completely destructive to habitats and local food producers. Food can give us energy to get through the day or contain ingredients that gives us allergic reactions.
Food can cooked by highly skilled chefs with inventive flair, or mass produced and delivered with speed at the side of road. It can be incredibly healthy or complete junk and bad for your health. It can taste delicious or be a locals only delicacy.
Food is important to our culture, identity and daily sustenance and the team at Blog Action invite you to join us to talk about food.

Some topics suggestions for your Blog Action Day post.
  • My favorite food
  • The famine in East Africa
  • To be organic or not to be, that is the question.
  • Hunger and poverty.
  • Best and worst food memory
  • Slow Food, Fast Food: What does it actually mean
  • Malnutrition
  • Conflict over Food: Will new wars be about arable land?
  • Is your hamburger hurting the environment?
    It takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger. That means it would take over 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.
  • Vegan, Vegetarian, Meat eater – Which one are you and why?
  • Trading in the future of food. What is the impact of food speculation?
  • Will we be able to feed 9 billion people in 2050?
  • How does Fair Trade food help farmers and communities get out of poverty?
  • Freeganism  – eating the things others throw away.
  • The scandal of food waste.
  • What is the best way to farm food?
  • Growing your own – the joys and heartache of growing what you eat?
  • Too much or too little taking food to extremes.
  • Strangest thing you have ever eaten.
  • What food means to your culture.

Going through a newspaper, whether in print or online, is itself a revelation of the diverse dimensions of food in the human experience and across cultures, around the physical and human geography of the globe.  Food features in the culinary section (recipes, new trends, new imports), the dining around town section (restaurant openings, reviews, recommendations), the health section (nutrition and health or illness, eating disorders--obesity, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, emotional eating, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and supplements), and in the international, national, and local parts of the news section.

Internationally food has been a major topic in the form of the famine in the East Horn of Africa, radiation concerns of food in and from Japan after the Fukushima disaster, and concerns about poor regulation of food imports from China. Many countries struggle with ongoing problems of poverty and nutrition, exacerbated or modified by more recent events: white poverty in South Africa; flooding in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the US economic downturn resulting in working and middle class families relying on Food Banks; the ongoing after effects of the January 2010 earthquake on Haiti's chronic 4th world status, etc.

Nationally in Canada, there are recalls of contaminated food products grown or produced within Canada, and warnings about those that are a national issue in the US, as there is considerable importation. Locally, there is concern about legislation of junk food advertising and high availability to school children. Sometimes the local becomes national, as with the Toronto mayor's councilman brother serving as (yet again) a negative example, in his desire to put back/keep junk food machines in schools (the ones he and his mayoral sibling decide to keep open) as a big money maker. Financing education by enabling obesity, malnutrition, and lifelong health harmful habits? Indeed.

From left, Randy Ford, Rob Ford and Doug Ford, at the office of the family company, Deco Labels & Tags. On the wall behind them is a portrait of their father, Doug, who founded the company and served as a Conservative MPP from 1995 to 1999. DAVE RIDER/TORONTO STAR

Even more locally, that is personally, I am still struggling with recovering from an iron deficiency seemingly provoked by being female, demands on body outstripping supply by normally adequate dietary iron, too many tannins (in the form of caffeinated drinks) which wash out iron, to keep functioning through unusual demands on my energy (father's illness and death), and not taking usual occasional mild supplementation as recommended by GP. Though some of this was unavoidable, better self-care and self-awareness would probably have prevented this most annoying and lengthy phenomenon. Physician heal thyself--with the help of  the health care system, and regular visits to the family doctor. Same goes for the rest of you! :D

Related Posts:
Braving Mogadishu to Provide Medical Aid to Somalia: Canadian and Saudi Arabian Teams
Ramadan and the 2011 Somalia Famine: A Great Need for Zakat, Sadaqa, Charity; A Reluctant Response
Tim Hortons to Open in the GCC: A Primer for Neophytes
Fun with Food Art--Foodies and Photographers Do Your Thing!
Cross-Cultural Culinary "Catastrophes": True Confessions of Chez Chiara Readers
Halal French Cuisine: Gastronomic Integration by French Muslims
Saudi Arabia's Needy and Winter--"Warmth": The National Winter Initiative دفء: المبادرة الوطنية للشتاء

See Also:
World Food Day,16 October:"Food prices - from crisis to stability". A post from earlier this month by Saudi blogger Wafa' of My World and More, and Wafa Is Reading who has also done a number of very moving posts on the crisis in the East Horn of Africa.
Hungry in North Korea
Haiti revisited
White Poverty in South Africa
A simple day in the life...
Food Fight: Tomatina festival 2011
Horn of Africa: on the brink of a humanitarian crisis
Japan: three months after the quake
Pakistan: daily life
Haiti, one year later

Specifically on Saudi Arabia See Also:
the other face of saudi Arabia
“Poverty in Saudi Arabia Revisited”
Escaping poverty by suicide is prevalent in Saudi Arabia
تدوينات موسومة 'Poverty in Saudi Arabia'
in Arabic, with video and pictures
Saudi Arabia: Data [Economic] from the World Bank

How would you address any of the topics proposed for Blog Action Day 2011-Food?
Fess up, was your worst food experience one of your own making? :D

*This post was back dated by 5.5 hours to be sure it appeared as October 16, 2011 in its usual time zone.


Wendy said...

Such an interesting, diverse and extremely huge topic! This week I watched the first in a series on Al Jazeera, Slavery: A 21st Century Evil, and it was about slavery in the food chain. The subject of this one was about Thai men going to work on farms in Hawaii. The men have their passports taken, are housed inhumanely without proper sanitation and food, are not paid what is promised, are charged for the virtually non-existent food, etc.
I had many thoughts coming at me from this episode.
1. Americans had better stop talking about how badly KSA treats it's 'slaves'.
2. I might think twice about eating fruits and veggies from Hawaii or unless I know the farming was done without 'slaves'.
3. We should really get names and countries and boycott these products as well as inundate the governments with letters about them.

Wendy said...

Another topic about food that interests me is the 100 Mile Diet where we are to eat only foods that are grown and produced within 100 miles of our homes. This sounds great for our own farmers and producers but what is the trickle-down affect globally?

I think it would be much healthier for us to follow the 100 Mile Diet. There are those nutritionists who believe our bodies are genetically predisposed to foods coming for the climate to which we are born/live and we are doing ourselves harm eating foods not native or out of season to what we have locally. Right or wrong? It makes sense to me sometimes.

oby said...

Your comment reminds me of a friend of mine who, upon moving to Louisiana from California was quite disturbed to realize that Louisianans don't eat "seasonally". In California they eat whatever is in season. In Lousisiana and many other parts of the country we don't have that concept except for a few fruits such as watermelon or cherries. The basics of fruit ( bananas, apples, grapes, tomatoes, oranges etc.) are available year round. Your point is well taken...these things are trucked in at great expense/fuel/time.

Susanne said...

What do you think about this article that challenges us to not necessarily eat locally...for the sake of the world's poorest?

Wendy said...

Susanne, I think it would be very hard for us to adapt to the 100 mile diet when we are so used to having everything at our fingertips. We do have that at great cost though. The trickle down effect from stopping international food exchange would be enormous with many peoples put out of work.But is that really true??? Much of the world lives on a 100 mile diet though and they grown their own foods and can stay healthy.
GM foods are a thorn in my side. I absolutely detest Monsanto for what they have done globally with their GM seeds. It's a tragedy. A small example of the harm being done is that our prairie farmers here in Canada (and the USA)have discovered that the round-up injected grain fields that are supposed to keep away the weeds have a super ragweed reaching for the sky that has worked it's way around the round-up. We will see this over and over again and the farmers don't know what to do.

Regarding the USA dairy farmer subsidies ... I could never get my head around this one. You allow hormones to be injected into cows so that they will produce more milk (Monsanto developed that and also the drug to treat the mastitis that the cow develops because of the increased milk production) and yet you are dumping milk because you have too much at times. Now go and study some of the effects that hormone is having on puberty and our children!!!!! Thank heaven Canada does not allow it and bless the farmers in Europe who won't allow GM crops! On the subject of GM crops and India ... these crops have had a very negative effect in many ways but that's a whole other subject.

majed said...

I am just back from my Pilgrimage to my family, sorry I could not spare a moment to drop few words,but after spending more than a year away it was only right to dedicate every single second of my vacation to my wife and children.

Mega corporations buying things in bulks at very low prices and able to control prices,uncurbed import export regulations,poor countries bound with free trade agreements and are forced to apply international prices for stocks while not forced to apply it in the same manner when it comes to paying wages and salaries to worker,traders buying agriculture produces and sea food and livestock at low prices from unaware and ignorant farmers and fishermen in poor countries to either export it to get hard currency at international market prices and refuse to sell it locally for any lower price because they have an alternative that will fetch them much more profit by exporting it to rich countries,also climate abnormalities in places where farmers depend on rain water in farming has become a nightmare for small farmers like the farmers in India and Pakistan and Ethiopia where over 75% of the population live by their land,and rain either coming before time or too late or too much and at times no rain at all, eventually force them to quit farming and many commit suicide because they don't know anything else,and in southern parts of Yemen, and else where too the abundant seafood was the only cheap food protein people could afford and enjoy, has become as expensive as gold because corporation taking it directly in bulk from fishermen saving them marketing efforts and time,and export it to Japan and Hongkong etc, forcing people to do what they have never thought they would in their worst nightmares just to feed their children,and open market has now brought junk food to India and other poor countries KFC, McDonald's etc now operating in India too and recently walmart managed to get a forced entry to India to smother millions of the small kirana store holders who hardly manage to make a decent living just to satisfy their greed it is all about greediness of some that harms billions of us.
God bless Indra Ghandi 's soul.


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