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World Food Day: A Beginner’s Guide

October 16, 2018

Do you know what’s special about today’s date? If your answer is that it’s two weeks until Halloween, you’re technically correct – but you’ve forgotten about an even more important commemoration: World Food Day. Don’t worry though, our beginner’s guide to this annual celebration will bring you up to speed. Starting with the most obvious question…

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, with events taking place in over 150 countries. 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 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. But wild capture fisheries cannot meet these demands. That’s why aquaculture is responsible for a growing proportion of the global supply of seafood and will be vital to ensure this supply continues without putting wild stocks at risk. Aquaculture already accounts for more than half of the global supply of seafood, and the FAO predicts that the share of aquaculture will grow exponentially in the coming years.

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. 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. The ASC’s new Improver Programme also works with smaller farms, and helps them to make some of these improvements to their practices even if they are not yet ready for ASC certification.

Who else can help?

The FAO is clear that achieving zero hunger will require the efforts of everyone – including governments, private businesses and farmers. Even individuals can take steps to reduce the amount of food they waste. Similarly, improving the standards of aquaculture requires a collaborative approach. ASC certification helps producers to improve their practices, but the ASC also works with businesses to create market incentives for producers to make these improvements, and also with governments – for example by benchmarking ASC standards with local requirements.

This collaboration extends to each of us in our daily lives. How? Because 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.

For more information on this year’s World Food Day, and find out more about how you can help improve food security, visit the FAO’s website.

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