Today is World Food Day, and World Food Day of Action for Food Sovereignty.  it’s also Blog Action Day on the theme of Inequality.  All this within the Year of Family Farming!


I haven’t had time to prepare a proper post.  I wanted to reflect a bit about food and climate inequality, in terms of both culpability (mostly of the rich world) and vulnerability (mostly of the poor), and put this in a context of “food security” (a loaded term) and its challenges. When I think about what I want to say on the topic, it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  And I kind of short-circuit.  The great thing is, Blog Action Day is going to give us all lots of opportunities to explore the theme really diversely, and learn a lot reading people’s contributions.  Mine is just a beginning, pointing to connections I want to deeply understand as we go about public campaigns and personal quests — seeking as always at KitchenCounterCulture to bring it all back home.

Big topic. 

The Oxfam statistic is: “The richest seven percent of the world’s population (half a billion people) are responsible for 50 percent of global CO2 emissions; whereas the poorest 50 percent emit only seven percent of worldwide emissions.”  In his important article on healthcare systems and Ebola, Paul Farmer quotes this stunning fact:” the Dallas Cowboys football stadium consumes more energy each year than the whole of Liberia.”  Into this mix add the concept of Climate Debt: that the rich world –rich largely because it’s relied so much on Greenhouse Gas creating energy –has moral duty to address this historic inequality, particularly as people in poor countries are already feeling the violence of climate disruption, which will only get worse with time.

The context for world food security is that small farmers actually grow most of the world’s food, as this FAO infographic shows.  This is the state of affairs at this moment in time when ecological uncertainty and crazy weather are amply challenging for growers, let alone the battles of state-sanctioned land grabs, corporate privatisation of seeds and marketing laws on seed varieties. Hence the Food Sovereignty vision becomes one that best empowers people in their own realms of food production and consumption and fights the poverty that comes from food disenfranchisement.  Michael Twitty brings this into the realm of cooking when he talks about “Culinary Injustice.”  He’s a historian talking particularly about slavery and African American food cultures, but his points resonate to eating, nutrition, health, and poverty all over the world.  All these issues relate profoundly to the complexities of economic, social and gender inequalities…. (Gender because, for one, most small farmers in the world are women!)

I like the approaches of Climate Justice, which looks at historic and contemporary inequality in order to make a less unequal, more equal future, even in the face of our precarious world, perhaps as one of the benefits of responding to its precariousness!  Yet there’s an emergent contender to Agroecology which takes some of its language: Climate Smart Agriculture.  CSA is considered greenwash by lots of civil society organisations who have many objections related to lack of social criteria, a push towards carbon trading and and its promotion of agribusiness and problematic industrial methods.  Please educate yourself because we are going to be hearing this phrase a lot in the future.

When you get a chance, watch the very informative Food First conference proceedings I’ve embedded at the top of the page.

And… for World Food Day, there’s an amazing conference happening in Glasgow today called Our Common Wealth of Food (#Nourish2014)  which will be really worth following up on.  They are really getting at the nitty-gritty of lots of what I’m writing here.


OK, I hope this hasn’t been just a rant.  I hope I’ve at least offered some useful links.  We’re all just souls in bodies in a huge swirling universe, hoping for as much happiness and meaning, love and light, in our time here on earth, and that’s our fundamental equality, each human being.  Ensuring that our social and economic structures honour this, that’s what motivates so many of us…


I also wanted to share the fun animation below. Thanks to this blog for introducing it as well as the book The Spirit Level (now on my wish-to-read list) that attributes so many our personal and social problems to structural, systemic inequality. Here’s an amazing website that allows you to look at the effects of inequality on lots of issues including mental health, social mobility, global warming etc.– refer to the list in green on the right side.