The Scoop on Sustainability: Food citizenship
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Food is something we all tend to take for granted. It is not necessarily our fault; food plays a rudimentary part in our daily lives, and it’s normally easy to not give it much thought.
How often do you ask yourself “Where did this come from?” or “Who worked to produce it for me?” “How will it affect my body?” or “What are the related impacts on the environment?”
We may think these questions are trivial. But for our future and those of our grandchildren, they are things we should all consider.
With increases in technology and the coinciding rise in population, the food landscape in our country has changed dramatically to meet the basic hunger needs of our citizens. There now exists enough food to feed the world, yet it isn’t making it to the mouths of those who need it most. How could this be?
Furthermore, agricultural workers around the world and in the United States are facing food shortages while we, privileged Americans, eat four times the portion size as we did in 1950, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately in doing so, we have lost sight of the importance that food brings to our health, well-being, communities and economy. The CDC also states that if obesity continues to rise, by the year 2020, 20 percent of all healthcare spending will be on obesity-related diseases and conditions. We, as a nation, and as a global community, need to stop and assess the direction in which we’re going and how to stop it. It must be stressed to everyone why we should all put a re-emphasis back on our food.
Pay attention at the next grocery store visit; where does the produce come from? Is it primarily the United States or is it flown in from a country thousands of miles away? Many are beginning to distrust the food system in our country because of increasing awareness of GMO’s, pesticides and health risks from factory farms. Eating real and local food empowers communities to be stronger economically and live healthier lives.
By developing a shared interest in our food and our communities, we will benefit from both an individual and societal standpoint. UNH is doing its part in placing food at the forefront with a variety of initiatives. Dining focuses on local food and composts the waste, academic programs are growing across campus (pardon the pun), and we have a multitude of farms and research initiatives working to improve the food systems on campus and beyond. On the student forefront, the second annual Month of Food Citizenship has begun and runs up to National Food Day on Oct. 24. There will be several events focused on addressing the importance that “real” food should play in our lives hosted by organizations all across campus. Food is a community experience and at UNH, that is strongly reflected as one of our core values.
UNH is also lucky to be in a thriving local food area of New Hampshire. Seacoast Eat Local is just one of many local groups that provide resources for local food. Farmers markets go all year round in the surrounding towns, providing an option to buy local food every week, no matter the weather. Throughout this month, try out a new event, or a new food, and get educated on what you’re putting into your own body. Is it real food?
Alex Parkes is a senior social justice studies and political science major