It has been well over a month since I last wrote a blog post – the longest break yet! During this time I have been on my bi-yearly retreat in Wales, then on a two week vacation in Sicily with family. It is easy to get distracted from the world situation during such enjoyable times. And I guess we all need a break.
Now I am back in Norway – where fall is in full swing with gray rainy days chasing yellow leaves from the trees onto wet roads and empty fields. Time to go back to scanning the web to get a sense of where things are these days.
The American election has of course taken over the airwaves. The debates and the media don’t make much reference to climate change or any of the other major global issues heading our way. It makes me wonder if most people are like me on vacation – distracted by daily life – looking for a break from bad news. But lots is happening despite the distractions. From my initial exploration, two issues have caught my attention: Food Waste and Justice for Women. Although these topics don’t really belong together it occurs to me that women and food are usually connected and we women can certainly make a difference in both issues.
The unbelievable amount of food waste in our western system has come clearly to the foreground! We are suddenly recognizing that at least 40% of the food produced is destroyed. It isn’t just that most people waste food at home, a big chunk happens in the wholesale markets, grocery stores and restaurants. In order to satisfy their customers’ desire for choice and perfect looking food, there is always more food than will be sold and food that doesn’t look good enough is culled out. The result is that almost half of the food ends up being thrown away! This is shocking! I couldn’t believe it when I heard about it. When so many in the world are hungry – we throw away good food. The inefficiency of the system in general is appalling.
As this statistic becomes known individuals and companies are reacting with creativity and social enterprise. Some food is being collected and transformed into biomass for electricity, some is being distributed to the needy and even some rejected fruits and vegetables are being made into new products by cottage businesses like this one by 27-year-old Jenny Dawson, founder of the chutney and jam company “Rubies in the Rubble”.
I have come across many articles about this issue, highlighting both the concerns and innovative solutions. This article, World Food Day: General Mills Targets Waste to Address Food Security is very informative,also pointing out that 925 million people – or one in seven people globally – do not have enough to eat, making hunger and malnutrition the No. 1 risk to health worldwide.
Another aspect of food security is our demand for lots of cheap food. This BBC documentary “Is the era of cheap food at an end?” makes an interesting case for how climate change and drought may cause a shift in what we have come to take for granted. This captivating video gives a real picture of life going on as usual even as things change dramatically around us.
I believe that food waste is one area where consumers can have a big impact through their own choices, awareness and lobbying efforts.
Justice for Women
I recently blogged on a wonderful initiative to help women become successful activists around the world through learning writing skills via the amazing World Pulse organization. I think it is very interesting that two other initiatives have turned up recently with similar goals. It feels like this issue is going viral and finding different outlets to manifest and expand.
This past week was the launch 10×10 Girl Rising, a global action campaign about bringing education to girls living in developing nations. It is expected that 10×10’s partners and supporters will host more than 500 events all around the globe in support of the campaign.
And then there is this amazing video that introduces the documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women”. A very inspiring and exciting initiative by lots of people you will recognize.
In addition to these three initiatives it is interesting that this past week has seen the tragic situation of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman because she campaigned for girls’ education. The outpouring of sympathy for this young woman and the uprising of Pakistani people against the Taliban because of this, is very encouraging. “Courage” is maybe what is beginning to happen.
As we wake up from our distractions and face what is going on, courage, creativity and the commitment to making a difference seems to be part of the change that is emerging globally.