"More than ever it matters that we know and understand about our food, where it comes from, how it grows and who grows it. It matters because not only does it affect everyone on the planet, it affects the planet itself.” Michael Morpurgo
Food is one of our most basic needs but it is very unfairly distributed among the world’s people. Some countries have too much food resulting in problems of obesity and overweight, while other countries have food shortages with people suffering from hunger, malnutrition and famine.
People do not go hungry because of a global shortage of food. There is enough produced in the world to feed everyone; so much food in fact that in richer countries a lot of food ends up in the bin! Hunger and malnutrition are instead a result of a lack of land to grow food or a shortage of money to buy it.
This is not just the amount of food you eat (and waste!). It is the land, space, water and energy involved in growing, producing and supplying the food from the field to your plate.
Much of the food we eat in developed countries like Britain, Western Europe and the USA, is imported. However, this trade in food has its problems.
In order for us to have the wide choice of foods we take for granted, much of our food is grown and supplied by farmers and producers in the developing world. This means that countries in the developed world have a large food footprint, extending beyond their own available land and using land that could be growing food to feed hungry people. And the fact that we throw so much of our food away makes our footprint even larger.
The food footprint: how it measures up
Some 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger related causes; three-quarters of the deaths are children under the age of five.
Around 826 million people go each day without the food their bodies need for healthy development.
In the UK, 40% of the food we eat is imported from abroad; 95% of fruit and half of all vegetables eaten in the UK are imported.
Around one third of food in the UK ends up in the rubbish bin.
Nearly a third of all goods transported on our roads are related to food and farming.
The average UK adult travels about 135 miles per year by car to shop for food, usually to large supermarkets.
Food as a basic human right
Provision of nutritious food is a basic human right. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that:
‘You have the right to good quality health care and to clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that you can stay healthy. Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this.’
For further information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child click here