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Food Security

By Glenn Wilson, Tallangatta Valley

On a micro level “food security” may mean having enough food in the fridge and pantry to keep the family fed until the next shopping trip.  On a macro level “food security” means having all systems that are involved in supplying the world with nutritious, fresh and affordable food functioning seamlessly and smoothly.  Many of us would place our understanding of food security somewhere in between.

Real food security requires a healthy environment, predictable weather patterns, fertile soil, someone to grow, harvest, process and store the food and a distribution system that can deliver the food to your retail outlet regularly and reliably.

Today food security is facing challenges.  In this country we have unreliable weather, limited fertile soil and an agricultural and transport systems that rely heavily on fossil fuels to function.  On a global scale the population projections say that every day there will be more mouths to feed. 

The effects of climate change through abnormal weather are also negatively impacting on food security.  Artificial fertilizers are heavily reliant on oil and productive soil is being lost through unsustainable agricultural practices.

Every mouthful of food you eat has an impact on the earth.  Some foods have a greater impact than others.  Long term food security will be tenuous if the foods we consume overburden the earth.  Eating locally produced food, in season and prepared with the minimum use of energy has many advantages for long term food security.  Do we really need to eat air-freighted American cherries in the middle of our winter?  Are locally produced cheeses a better option than imported?  What is the true environmental impact of the grain fed steak you had for dinner?  Is it smart to be importing and eating Danish bacon, or Chinese lollies? Is eating home grown lamb a better option than the vegetarian staples often transported over long distances?

If food security is important, then growing, buying and eating food in a manner that supports this needs to be a conscious, ongoing decision for our health and wellbeing.  If food labels are confusing or misleading, let your local member know and request simple, clear food labelling.  If prime food producing farmland is threatened by urban sprawl or other inappropriate land use, lobby for planning guarantees that protect it.  Become active in calling for safe, nutritious and affordable food to sustain us now and into the future.