Saturday, 20 July 2013

Food and nutrition across the globe

After participating in the Enough Food for Everyone IF demonstration in Hyde Park to influence G8 leaders take action on world hunger, becoming employed in a pub kitchen and witnessing judgements and criticism based on people's choice of diet, it has become clearer to me from a variety of perspectives how much food dominates our lifestyles. Food and nutrition are issues that affect both poor and rich countries in different ways. Many people in both developing and developed countries are dependent on the food industry as their source of income, such as farmers, waiters, chefs, supermarket suppliers and health professionals.

We can't deny that the problem of obesity is increasing in developing countries, but are the correct solutions in place? It’s clear that criticising and undermining those with weight issues face to face or through media such as Facebook and Twitter isn't the best solution, as it creates low self-esteem and causes further problems, such as anorexia and bulimia. I think its quite sad that society is increasingly basing it’s initial judgements on people’s outer appearance and personality is becoming less significant, when actually in many cases the personalities of those with bodies considered “perfect” far from reflect their appearance. Perhaps positively encouraging people to actively engage in sports and sensitively offering alternative diets are better options. 

Oppositely, the issues faced in developing counties involve hunger, poverty and malnutrition. More than three million children die every year because they can’t get enough to eat. The fundamental contributing factors are aid, land, tax and transparency. Firstly, although aid is a vital food source for many of the world’s poor, this creates a dependency on aid that may not always be delivered and does not help the poor to help themselves, as opposed to a long term strategy that could be put in place. Farming is also a problem for a world’s poor because even if farmers grow substantial amounts of food, they are often forced to sell this to developed countries for unreasonable prices. They are also often obliged to use land that would otherwise be a vital food source to grow non-food crops such as flowers, cotton or crops to create biofuels to meet the demand of developed countries. Tax and transparency are major international issues in that many large corporations base their headquarters in developing countries in order to pay less tax, thus hindering the ability that country’s government from providing people with their basic needs. Many government officials in developing countries are also corrupt and will use food aid for their own benefit, resulting in deteriorating conditions for their people and dishonesty about government involvement in food provision. Through challenging those involved in illegal actions motivated solely for profit and putting pressure on them to change their conduct, perhaps we can begin to make a difference.

Despite world hunger being a huge international issue, there seems to be a lack of public awareness. Most people are aware that starvation is occurring in the world, but many fail to understand the scale and complexity of the issue and ways in which they could contribute to its eradication. In all honestly I think many people would rather live in ignorance so they can avoid acknowledging the issue and focus on less internationally significant issues within their own community. How anyone can be passionate about nutrition yet can turn a blind eye to those in the world suffering from malnutrition as a result of hunger is beyond me.

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