World Food Day: how we can all fight food insecurity
October 16 is World Food Day, and its message of ‘our actions are our future’ encourages people to help fight food insecurity with their personal choices. Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry, this is exactly what ASC aims to help you do.
This is the second World Food Day to be commemorated under the shadow of the pandemic. Some countries are opening up and may feel like life is getting back to normal, while others may still have a long way to go. Similarly, the fight against hunger is at very different stages in different parts of the world. This is why it is so important to have a global day dedicated to eradicating this preventable scourge.
Despite the ongoing restrictions, World Food Day 2021 will be marked in over 150 countries, with events bringing together governments, NGOs, businesses and the public.
Our actions are our future
One of the key messages this year is ‘Our actions are our future’. Of course, food systems are complex and multinational and action to improve them and eradicate food insecurity will require action from governments and industry – no one person or group can do this on their own. But that shouldn’t mask the impacts that us ordinary people can make too.
As the World Food Day website says: “We need to influence what is produced by increasing our demand for sustainably produced nutritious foods, and at the same time be more sustainable in our daily actions, first and foremost by reducing food loss and waste.”
As you can imagine, this is something that really resonates with us at ASC. We strongly believe that by choosing more responsibly farmed seafood, we can reward those producers and encourage other producers to improve their practices as well. Of course, consumers can’t do this on their own – this is where ASC comes in. We can provide trusted and transparent assurance of which products have come from responsible farms.
What is World Food Day?
An annual commemoration of the formation of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), which took place on 16 October 1945. The FAO works to ensure food security for everyone, and World Food Day is one of the UN’s biggest annual celebrations. It aims to promote awareness of those who suffer from hunger, and encourage action to promote food security and better nutrition.
What are the issues?
Chronic hunger makes it harder to meet many of the UN’s other goals, such as good health and quality education, and it in turn is impacted by a number of other global issues. These include conflict, climate, the economy and inequality. The most vulnerable communities are the most susceptible to sudden shocks and volatility in food supply chains, and this year has been an unwelcome reminder that this volatility can strike at any time. The challenges of malnutrition, in all its forms, is complicated further by the rising cases of obesity around the world. Looking to the future, the world’s population will continue to grow and is estimated to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, so the demand for healthy food will only continue to grow.
How can aquaculture help?
Seafood is a great source of healthy protein to meet these rising demands. The amount of seafood eaten around the world per person has already doubled since 1961 – and the FAO predicts it will continue to rise. Aquaculture already accounts for more than half of the global supply of seafood, and the FAO predicts that the share of aquaculture will continue to grow in the coming years. As well as feeding millions, aquaculture also provides livelihoods around the world – often to small scale farmers in developing economies.
What’s this got to do with the ASC?
As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, so does the imperative to ensure that farms are run well both environmentally and socially. Farms that are not well managed can have a number of impacts, including water pollution, disruption of local ecosystems and poor working conditions.
At ASC we don’t believe it’s enough for aquaculture to keep growing to meet rising demand – if it is not done properly, the potential impacts could have grave consequences and lead to exactly the sort of uncertainty that the FAO warns against. That’s why ASC certified farms must demonstrate that they are managing and minimizing these impacts. It’s not just about managing the impacts of aquaculture. ASC certification also encourages more efficient practices, which can help in the fight to increase the global supply of food.
Who else can help?
Achieving zero hunger will require the efforts of everyone – including governments, private businesses and farmers. And we can’t put it any better than ‘our impacts are our future.’ This doesn’t mean it should be down to individuals to reimagine the global food system. It means we should feel empowered that we can make a difference with our choices, and however small that difference might feel individually, taken together it can add up to something unstoppable.
Your purchasing decisions have power. By choosing to buy seafood from farms that display the ASC logo, you can show your preference for farmers that engage in a transparent and always evolving process to ensure that the food they produce is raised according to best practices and in a manner that will provide much needed resources for the future.