Food Crisis, Food Prices, and Food Wastage

by | Jun 4, 2008 | Projects |

so there is lots of talk in the media at the moment about food – and well I enjoy food lots so I thought I would say a few words that perhaps might spark some thought.  I do find it interesting that there is so much disgust with the fact that Mugabe is at the Food Summit in Rome – not that I am fan of the man or what is happening in Zimbabwe, yet I do find it interesting how we as humans behave.  Are food prices going up? Yup.  Is there a food crisis in the world? Well, umm, I am not convinced.  Are there more poor people dying of due to lack of food?  Yup.  But let’s pause and think about this and Mr. Mugabe for a moment.  With Mr. Mugabe I wonder why we can be so easily outraged at his presence, but not at other people’s presence.  Why are we not outraged by Europe’s presence?  When the crisis was happening in Niger a few years back, Niger was exporting food to Europe, while people in its country were starving to death, then some of this food was “donated” back to Niger by Europe as Aid and so they were seen as helping.  Mmm, perhaps the food should stay in the country in the first place.  yes, of course there are issues with export economics etc etc, but it does make me think.  Perhaps also we should remember that cows in Europe received $2 per day I think from the government, yet half the world’s population lives on less than that… perhaps that makes you think

According to reports, there is still enough food produced in the world to feed the population.  But as a friend of mine has said, God has provided enough for our need, but not our greed.  Chew on that one for a moment or two.  Yesterday, I was in London at Euston Station and stopped to grab a muffin to eat from Upper Crust – there was baguettes galore in for sale and I knew it was near closing time, so I asked, what happens to the food at the end of the day – they throw it out – I can’t say I was shocked by this, but I was shocked to learn that they throw out ALL their unsold food every 3 hours!!!!  That made me sick – I know that we can’t send the food to Africa, or Mexico, or Myanmar, but Upper Crust COULD do something like the store Pret a Manager does which is to donate any unsold food to homeless shelters and orgs that will use it.  Now, I am not naive to think that this is the cause of the food crisis.  I know enough about politics and development to realise that the food crisis is one complicated beast that has no simple solution, nonetheless I was shocked at the waste.  

Now in all of this I wonder where are the voices that are raises concerns about OUR consumption levels?  Where are the voices saying that one PART of the solution might be for US to consume LESS.  Novel thought, but I don’t hear that voice.  I wonder if this is not a role for faith communities, for churches, for mosques, for temples, synagogues, faith-based organisations?  Could we not come together and stand up and voice a concern to our governments, but FIRSTLY and PRIMARILY to ourselves and as communities consume LESS rather than striving for more more more.  Where is that voice saying, “perhaps there is a different way?”

Again, I don’t want to simplify the food crisis to only this, as I believe it is a very complex issue.  However, I don’t think this is part of the issue, one that I am not hearing people talk about as it scares economists.  But isn’t there more to life than our bloody economy?  Isn’t LIFE more than that?

Thoughts?  Do you hear the consumption debate happening?  If so, please tell us about it.

7 Comments

  1. lonny

    this food issue is huge……and…….complex! We have a vegetable garden, wonderful, but……..who does it benefit? Really just us, oke, a few others when the harvest is abundant; yet it is a good thing to do, but does it help the “food crisis”?
    What upsets me the most is the “waste”………. it is sickening to see what people leave on their plates when they eat in a restaurant!! Possibly too the “portions” are too large? Actually I think we have way too many places to “eat out in” here in Canada

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  2. Sandra

    Amos, thanks for inviting me to participate in your blog! I will comment on two things:

    Comment 1: Incidentally, I went to church today (predominantly a Zimbabwean congregation) and the Pastor gave a powerful sermon on how ‘Countenance (an idiom to show favour or grace) is Changing’. Case in point: Mugabe was not always a bad man, he was in fact considered a hero that liberated his people and there are many that still see him as one. He did A LOT of good early in his reign (e.g Zimb had the lowest illiteracy rates in Africa because of his education policies). But power and greed have changed his Countenance to the point that his people are suffering but he is too proud to do something about it. In better days, Zimbabwe was considered the food basket of Africa! Imagine that. So what went wrong? He was the leader then and he is the leader now? His Countenance changed and he no longer put the interests of his people first but sort to fulfill his own selfish desires. I believe his presence on Rome had nothing to do with what the summit was all about, (addressing the current food crisis) but a way to wag a finger at the world and show them that he is still in control! That is the kind of pride that continues to hurt his country. To answer your question, I guess it is easier to be outraged at Mugabe’s presence than Europe’s presence at the summit because this is ONE man that has done so much damage in such little time. Being mad at a region (Europe) or an organization the UN for their role in the food crisis is like fighting a war that you cant win.

    Comment 2: I believe that the food crisis in Africa like many other of its problems is as a result of poor leadership and corruption. Africa is the richest continent in terms or resources and there is absolutely no reason why its people should suffer so. Being an African and growing up there, I have seen politicians more interested in building their coffers than in helping their people to a point where its just obscene. Yes, the west plays a role by taking advantage of the ‘situation’ and encouraging policies that benefit them but it is up to our leaders to take responsibility and make different choices to stop relying on the west, to eliminate corruption and to lift its people out of this misery. We have to stop pointing fingers at the west, and start looking at what we as Africans can do. I am tired of the blame game, its been going on since the end of the colonization era. It is time for African leaders to step up and do what the rest of the developed world is doing, taking care of its people and being accountable to them. How? By first rooting out corruption and implementing policies that will ensure, education, healthcare and food (the most basic of needs) are available to all.

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  3. facesofanotherworld

    yosh – great to hear from you and thanks for engaging!

    i can understand the comment, but at the same time, i have to challenge you on it and ask what is meant by turning to God as a nation…it seems to me that while this sounds like a nice idea, what do you actually mean by it? Often when I hear this type of comment, people mean that they want a nation to be led by people of a particular faith, the country ruled by a particular set of laws, and that their particular religion or people group is in control. I struggle with this. We want our leaders to pray, to be god-fearing, and when particular issues like abortion and sexuality are dealt with in ways that we don’t agree with, then we get angry and call for our nation to come back to God. However, when the gap between rich and poor grows, when poverty is overlooked/ignored, when our only response as nations is revenge, for some reason I don’t see people of faith getting bent out of shape because of that and calling the nation to repentance. this makes me sad.

    i believe in a God that is incredibly active within the crap of the world. A God who weeps with those who mourns, a God sits with the young girl under the streetlamp trying to finish her homework, a God who walks with the prostitutes, a God who laughs with children, who sings with those who are rejoicing. And this God is inviting all of us to bring the skills that have been given us to join him in making the world a better place.

    i don’t understand why it rains in some places and not others – however I think that science can explain a lot to us on that one. Can we make a difference on the issue of the food crisis, wasteage, and consumption – i believe we can, however I think it is about time that faith communities start looking at themselves first, rather than looking beyond themselves. didn’t someone once say something about removing a log first, before the speck…

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  4. yosh

    great points famo amo,

    yes God did make it so all the people can be fed. To bad that “poor” people have to depend on us “rich” people to eat. But…What chu tink of dis idea?
    When there is no hope for a people, when it looks like all is lost, what if – i mean – what if they would turn to God as a nation, He really would come and heal their land. Its a reciepe that has worked since the world was set in motion. Every time a person or people or nation comes and confesses and repents and turns to God, He will withhold judgement and rain down blessing. and on that note i’m a little worried that God will with hold some blessing on us – a nation not really seeking Him at the moment.
    first time on your blog man thanks yosh

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  5. carolee

    i agree. i consume way too much and it makes me sick when i think about it. everytime my kids don’t finish eating something , i’m infuriated. but i guess it’s my fault isn’t it?

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  6. Dan Zado

    good idea on the blog, i will check it regularily to read your new posts. world hunger too tough for me to do anything about. i have my 3 kids to feed, and they are well fed so it doesnt really cross my mind, i have a world visions child that i support, i am busy with my job, my house, my life to worry about someone elses, i cant find enough time in a day to worry about myself why would i worry about someone half way around the world, i elect people to worry about it, i vote isnt that enough….obviously i dont believe all this and i am just making comments to prove a point i live in the western world with all my other well fed friends, consuming LESS…hurts our economy, how does it hurt it, i dont know a politicain told me, really dealing with global warming, hurts our economy, how does it hurt it, i dont know a politician told me…I agree we each have to take ownership of our consumption and until we do nothing will corrected…I could go on but i will end it for now and pick up on a later conversation…take care famous.

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