We all eat and enjoy sharing food with our family and friends but we do not give much thought to the food that we consume and the issues that surround it. While I’m not here to add another issue to your plate or to guilt trip you, I did want to bring some attention to food issues that we face today and maybe give some more thought into something that we take for granted every day.
A fancy and more technical way of saying “hunger", food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a state in which “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
Even in America, where we think that our economy and food system is doing well, in 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children. 13% of households (15.8 million households) were food insecure. Considering that America is one of the world’s largest food exporters, this fact is a little scary.
This is the statistic that many countries make fun of America for. In fact, the US has a reputation across the world for being the country with one of the highest obesity rates. In fact, just a few years ago, the US was labelled as #1 fattest country in the world. Recently, however, the US has been steadily been dropping in the ranks, though still on the top.
However, the issue still remains dire as children are especially at risk. It is estimated that the current generation could become the first in modern history expected to have shorter lifespans than their parents due to their poor diets and health. The prevalence of junk food and unbalanced meals in schools all contribute to this rising health concern.
3) Food Industry Jobs
While we deal with people in the food industry on a daily basis, we never give much of a second thought to how the food system actually works. Many of the people who farm, grow, cook, and sell our food, face issues on a daily basis, and have been for as long as anyone can remember.
From unfair labor conditions, to pesticide exposure, to even low pay and long hours, the working conditions are not the best or the most glamorous. In fact, 5 of the 8 worst paying jobs in America are in the food industry. A ripe area for labor reform and wage change laws to be pushed to the forefront.
4) Rise of The “Natural, Healthy, And Organic Products”
There is no doubt that consumers are on the health food kick. You see it all over Instagram and social media how people are looking for more “healthy” options. While it is easy to get caught up in the craze and try to eat better, it is also good to understand your purchasing power and the influence that your decisions make on our food system.
Many large manufacturers and food companies are buying up these smaller and more natural companies. Sometimes, they might not even adopt the values of their acquired companies. Therefore, be sure to understand the support that you are giving and to understand the impact of your purchase.
In the modern world we live in today, people expect things instantly and usually choose the most convenient option for them. As such, many companies are looking to market products that are convenient and “on the go” which usually means more packaging and waste. Just think about all the Starbucks cups you might go through on a weekly basis.
However, it is hard for companies to cater to the consumers who want things instantly and who are very picky. It will be a challenge in the future for companies to address these changing needs and tastes of the consumer. We should be more aware of the impact that our consumption habits have on companies, but more importantly the environment.
Just some food for thought! Be aware of the food that you eat and the food system that you are impacting in your community. It is very easy to take food for granted but there are issues in the world of food that are just as important, if not more so, that get overlooked every single day.