Hungry for action
Are you a gardener? Or maybe even a farmer? Let me be honest: I envy you – I have no green thumb. I’ve tried growing herbs in my kitchen to no avail – I water them (not too much, I promise!), try to make sure they get enough sun (in Belgium, this is no mean feat). It takes care to grow a pot of herbs, much less a whole field. My grandfather, a farmer, knew this. My parents, gardeners, know this.
The seeds planted by those brave, industrious few provide food for the rest of us. And making sure there is enough food – at affordable prices – is so important right now. Just today, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) revealed that food prices have reached “a historic peak,” while speculation on food commodities on the stock market has come under scrutiny by the European Commission. This comes just after food riots in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Tunisia. Historic protests have forced Egypt’s and Tunisia’s presidents out of power, and Jordan’s king has just dismissed the government and appointed a new prime minister. Interesting times, indeed.
In terms of solutions, the UK’s Foresight report on food and farming said that hunger remains widespread, food prices need to be stable and our current way of producing food won’t be sustainable – in short – we need to do something, and fast. World and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos also said they were concerned about the world’s food supply and prices, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to make this one of the priorities for the G20, hosted in France this year.
Yet will there be action from world leaders? The Economist says we shouldn’t get our hopes up.
But I’m an optimist. We all eat, and we all have a role to play, even in our daily lives – you, me, farmers, leaders, commodity traders – everyone. Our actions have an impact on one another. The question is: what actions should we be taking?