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Opinion: We Can—and Should—Do More to Fight Food Insecurity

By Joshua Finn | Columnist 

With the winter months and holiday season upon us, charities, food pantries, community kitchens, and fridges are yet again in the spotlight during this “giving season.” Every year around this time we see people feeling more generous, many giving their time to the Rescue Mission, or ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, or simply donating food, clothing, toys, and funds to charitable organizations and groups. But hunger, food insecurity, homelessness, poor living conditions, these are all not seasonal woes, they are constant and consistent, always affecting millions across North America and billions across the globe. 

Let’s begin our discussion around the question of “hunger,” or as it has recently become more popular to speak of, “food insecurity.” Something ever clearer in the world is that nutritious, fresh food and a steady, healthy diet are key to not only healthy people but also to healthy communities and cultures.

But how is something like this possible in a world where almost all foods are processed and made with artificial additives/ingredients, produced and cultivated in awful conditions? Also why is it made only in very few places in the world, with chemicals, pollutants, and toxins of all kinds, and then shipped while frozen to be packaged and sold elsewhere?

When the food we eat is finally brought to where it is to be consumed, it is far from fresh. It’s rarely nutritious, generally expensive, and covered in wasteful wrapping. And this food is far more available en masse than good, healthy produce or meat. We have a food production system that does not work, not for us, not for most people around the world. 

It is an illogical system to many, and so then why is it so? One reason: Profits. 

If we consider this, then the idea of food insecurity becomes more concrete in our minds. These things are intrinsic to our food production system, and caused, in fact, by a manufactured scarcity. 

People all over the world have been subjugated and forced into cultivating and producing cheap, massive amounts of unhealthy food for ultra rich nations. This has happened by employing large numbers of extremely underpaid, exploited workers. Many of these work in terrible conditions while their country’s food, resources, and wealth are pumped out and into other countries for dirt cheap. The nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America have been subjected to this reality—in some form or another—for nearly 500 years.

This is not new to us; this has been the same lived reality for many Black, Latino, Asian, Mexican, and other oppressed peoples in North America historically—and even today. Sharecropping, mass enslavement of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples, migrant farm labor (which the government formerly subsidized itself), exploitation of immigrants, etc. These are all examples of this within not only agriculture, but industry too…which produces the machines, technology, and transportation that agriculture has used…which push more workers into either harder, more dangerous jobs, or onto the streets and into immiseration.

Yet, what is the alternative? Is there a way out? 

For many of us, the road forward seems impossible. As we said, this is a global system, right? How can we expect to ever overcome such obstacles?

But nothing is impossible. If we look around the world there are plenty of examples to show us how things could be different. Nowhere is perfect, and we can’t expect purity in such an unstable, imperfect world. But clearly the need for food must be realized as a human necessity and guaranteed right, not a commodified, market-controlled industrial racket. It will be hard, and it will take many sacrifices, changes in lifestyle, and especially, it will take people who are willing to come together and make do with what we have. It will also take struggling to produce and share more, in order to provide for all. People must be willing to find unity among what can unite us, and stand against those who seek to divide us. 

When it comes to the issue of food insecurity, things like co-operatives, community gardens, kitchens and fridges, local production of agriculture, and support for agricultural workers are all great first steps towards another possibility. But we can do more. The time is here for real change to come over the globe, not just our country. We must recognize our problems are the problems of the world—from hunger to homelessness to COVID to militarism—the problems we face are endemic to our globe. We must stand strongly, together, with all those willing to fight for a better world, and bring that better world forward today, together! 

Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staffhttp://www.uticaphoenix.net
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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