“Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.”
Eleven percent of the world population faces food insecurity. That’s more than 850 million people. World Food Day, celebrated on October 16th, was created by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1979 to address the global hunger crisis.
“Consumers are more than just eaters,” the World Food Day website explains. “You also have the power to influence what is produced through healthy food choices, which in turn contributes to more sustainable food systems.”
This year, the campaign theme is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.” It comes to a 2020 marred by a global pandemic, racial inequity, and a foreboding climate crisis. If ever there was a time to grow, nourish, and sustain together, this is it. Here are ten ways you can bring the values of World Food Day into your life today and every day.
1. Choose Local
What does eating local mean? It means supporting growers producers food in as close a radius as possible, ideally within 250 miles or so — think of it as any place you could drive to within a day and make it back home with your produce haul. That’s a good benchmark for where your food ideally comes from. That’s of course not always easy in off seasons. But a growing number of indoor vertical gardens and growers are popping up in cold-weather climates. London has an underground hydroponic greens producer. New York and Chicago have indoor growers, too.
2. Choose Seasonal
One of the best ways to stick to your local commitment is to eat with the seasons. Watermelon in December isn’t going to come from someplace nearby most people north of the Equator. But you’re likely to find pomegranate, persimmons, apples, and pear. Certain fruits and vegetables freeze exceptionally well and can sustain you through the winter.
3. Eat Less Meat
The World Health Organization now lists red and processed meat as probable and likely carcinogens. This includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. But not only are they harmful to human health, but they’re also incredibly resource-intensive to produce. Calorically speaking, plants can feed far more people than animals can, and with significantly fewer resources. This is essential to reducing our climate impact and to tackling global hunger.
4. Eat Less Dairy
Just as meat is resource-intensive, so too is dairy. Milk production requires upwards of 50 gallons of water and 100 pounds of feed per cow per day. Plant milk, on the other hand, is considerably less resource-intensive, including almond milk, which got an undeserving bad rap for its water footprint (most of the water it uses is rainwater).
5. Go Plant-Based
If you’re cutting down on meat and dairy, why not dive fully into a plant-based or vegan diet? In his recent Netflix documentary, “A Life on Earth,” Sir David Attenborough encourages viewers to adopt a plant-based diet. He points to the link between animal agriculture and climate change. The climate emergency is expected to reduce food availability for millions of people across the globe.
6. Reduce Food Waste
An estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption goes uneaten. While much of this happens before food makes its way to our plates, we do have the power to change our consumption habits and reduce food waste in our lives. Try shopping more often but buying only what you need rather than filling your cart every time. Plan your meals ahead of time and look at ingredients that work across several meals, like whole grains, beans, and steamed veggies.
7. Grow Your Own
A little goes (grows!) a long way. Whether you’re doing countertop sprouting, growing herbs, or your own greens, food we grow ourselves takes on a more profound significance and value. Growing your own also eliminates transportation and packaging, which also supports a healthier environmental footprint.
8. Eat the Rainbow
By diversifying your food choices, you keep a multitude of crops in the soil and a multitude of growers in the food system. A healthy food ecosystem supports wider availability and greater access. The healthier we eat as individuals the more we can inculcate the market and make healthier food for everyone the norm.
9. Support Small Producers
It’s not just our local farmers that need our support. Small producers are key to a holistic food system, too. They keep food production local, which means more local growers are finding nearby customers bringing their crops to market. “Our actions are our future,” the World Food Day notes for this year’s celebration. Keeping that future local means producers who are invested in their communities, bringing jobs, support, and inspiration where it’s needed most.
10. Support Healthy Food Initiatives
This work can’t be done alone. There are countless organizations out there helping to bring healthy food and resources to those most in need. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, for example, works with low-income communities around the world. It brings fruit-bearing orchards to communities and empowers them with a local food system. The United Nations’ World Food Programme just received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in famine-stricken regions. And there are likely a number of local organizations where you live working to feed those most in need.
Learn more by visiting the World Food Day website.