picture courtesy of foodsecurityalberta.ca
This post is all about food security, a pretty weighty and serious topic and not what you'd typically expect to read about on this blog. There is a lot of guilt, misunderstanding and a general lack of awareness surrounding this subject, and trust me when I say I am not taking a light-hearted approach to this as I usually would with some of my more traditional posts.
Whenever I've covered issues of food on this blog, its been about recipes, restaurants or just reviews of places I've been that happened to have some sort of food adventure in it. I chose this topic because despite the lightness of tone in the past with blog posts, I have always been very serious, and concerned about the state of our food industry and the true cost of what we put in our mouths.
I've only recently started to examine the issue of food security, but what is food security? What does it mean? Well, in basic terms, it's the ability to have access to safe, reliable food sources. You are food secure knowing that you have no fear of hunger or starvation, because there is a trusted food source close at hand. It cannot be overstated how much we take that access for granted in North America, and I am just as guilty of that as the rest of the population, so no preaching from me about that.
I've alway had a peripheral knowledge of where our food comes from, but I chose to ignore it because a recipe may have called for an ingredient and I had to get it, regardless of where it came from. You only need to go shopping at your local grocery store and choose to avert your eyes from the signs that read "whole garlic from China" or "strawberries from Mexico." But I'm aware of it, and I take a deep breath when I put said items into my shopping cart.
There are valid reasons why food is shipped in from other countries around the world, to a province and country where we are more than capable of producing locally grown food to feed our entire population. I understand the reasons as much as anyone else does, but I truly believe it comes down to a simple a case of economics: it's just cheaper to ship it than it is to grow it. Cheap food means cheaper groceries for the average Canadian. If we really took the time to understand how food is grown, the real impact our choices have on local farms, and the REAL cost of food believe me, obesity would probably disappear or at least be curtailed because our groceries would be astronomically expensive. It would bring the whole question of food security back in our faces, because the ability for our populations, particularly economically disadvantaged ones, to have fair access to reliable food sources would be thrown into disarray. Sound dramatic, doesn't it, but the possibility is there. Now do you see why this is a topic of interest to me?
My alma matter has a course/certification in food security. I just may look into it. Any opportunity I can to improve my knowledge and education about the food industry is never a bad thing. I definitely have a feeling it will chance my view points about the ongoing challenges of the entire food system. I may even look back on this post and smile...or cry, thinking boy, how little did he know.