Trent University Student Anisah Madden Tells us about International Food Policy

Have you ever wondered how what you eat affects your body… your world… and our environment?

Anisah Madden, 4th Year student at Trent University, in International Development Studies certainly has!!

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Anisah has been able to connect local food issues to the global ones…and then global ones to local ones…

And then back again like a boomerang!

Did you know that 1/5 of the world’s population is hungry, even though we have enough food to feed everyone?

The truth is: we have enough food on our planet … But it is not feeding the people who need it most.

Often times, we think food insecurity is a far away problem …but the reality is that it is right here at home in our community.

The food problem is a BIG one, because people are not getting enough food or the right types….

And in other cases, people are eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods that have low nutrients and are packed with calories.

People are either “stuffed and starved”! 

Obesity issues are now combined with hunger and malnutrition… a double health burden!!

AND!

Most of the food that we ARE producing globally is being done in a way that is contributing to climate change …. Agriculture releases about 57% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Just think about the fossil fuels that goes into the inputs, fertilizers, agrochemicals, fuel required for machinery… and not to mention the resources needed to feed and hydrate cows, chickens, and pigs…

This is called a “global value chain” -which includes all of the people involved in the production of a good or services and all of their activities. Industrial production is happening all over the world and being shipped to your local grocery store… And finally to your kitchen table. We are disconnected from the sources of our food, and therefore largely unaware of the environmental and social issues.

Anisah’s research involved taking a summer field course on International Food Policy in Rome.

Her research looked at how regular people (just like you!) have a voice with the Committee on World Food Security at the United Nations and how they might influence global food policy.

This Committee has the chance to contribute to the global conversation and have their voices heard as farmers, fishermen, forest dwellers, and even the urban poor (AKA, the people who have been most affected by the our current corporate food system).

Anisah’s research has been a combination of academic research and witnessing first-hand committee meetings and community level struggles – locally and globally.

Anisah’s upcoming review of Nora McKeon’s “Food Security Governance; Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations” critically assesses the book’s central argument about how civil society groups might influence global food policy. 

Anisah recommends that both individual & collective actions are an important first step at getting informed at changing the production and distribution of our food systems.

She emphasizes that we need to think about and challenge the way our governments/institutions are structured.

She gave us a great example of how this has been done successfully.

Two years ago, groups of students at Trent University spoke up about their meal plans and how restaurants like the Seasoned Spoon and the Planet, which are both sustainable food options on campus that have organically and locally grown options, were excluded in residence meal plans.

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Anisah mentioned that because students confronted and challenged the food service providers on campus, small structural changes to the institutions have now incorporated these restaurants into the meal plan. Since then, the Seasoned Spoon has nearly doubled their business!

Small structural changes really CAN make big changes!

She calls all of us to speak up locally about food issues in our communities, such as the right to keep backyard chickens.

Don’t forget to act independently, but to also have conversations with others and become more informed about how the link between economic structures and political institutions affects our day to day lives…

Like what food we put in our mouths and how it affects our planet…And the people in it.

trentu

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