We will start by defining what we mean by food security. The World Bank defines food security as follows:
"Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life."
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) extends this a little:
“exists when all people, at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life..."
As austerity continues to affect many UK consumers, and the changing relationship with the EU introduces new questions relating to future food supply, food prices have continued to rise. Consumers in the UK may have noticed the rises at supermarket tills, or may have changed their shopping habits to reduce the impact. Some supermarkets are trying to reduce the impact on customers in other ways. Food is not the only commodity to be rising in price, but it is one which we have no choice but to continue to buy. It is central to our lives, and also an essential part of our culture.
Every day one in nine people throughout the world don’t have enough food to support a healthy, active lifestyle.
Residents of the UK are used to a situation where food supplies are regular, and 'guaranteed'. Supermarkets shield consumers from the realities of the daily struggle that billions of people around the world face to ensure that they will eat that day. The tremendous range of food on offer (tens of thousands of different products in a typical supermarket) contrasts with the rather more limited diet of most of the world's population.
One irony is that reading some food labels will reveal that the majority of the food on the shelves is imported into the country. Students could easily be asked to explore the global connections that are evident from the cupboards in their own kitchens, as a starting point to some more critical thinking about this issue.
Which geographical concept(s) could this activity connect students with?
Broccoli from Morocco
Green Beans from Egypt
Parmesan from Italy
Which areas of the world do you think are likely to be those enjoying food security, or struggling with food insecurity? Jot down your ideas first.
Use an internet search engine to look for the term ‘food security’. What other ways can you find that it is defined?
Can you find a map showing areas which are said to enjoy food security?
Are they the areas of the world that you thought they would be before you started the activity? Compare your findings with your initial thoughts. How accurate were they?
Using a blank map of the world (PDF) mark on areas of relative food security and those which are currently less than secure.
You could use this activity as a way of reinforcing global knowledge of country names and continents.
View the map of world hunger created by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) below:
According to the FAO:
Over 1 billion people are going hungry every day.
One child is dying every five seconds of hunger-related causes.
How could you present these statistics so that students could visualise the figures involved and appreciate the scale of the issue ?
As you work through the activities, reflect on the new Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 2, No Hunger.
- How likely is this goal to be achieved?
- What issues might prevent this goal be achieved?
- What strategies are outlined as part of the goal?
We will return to this particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) later in the course.
Visit the Food Security Index website. This is developed in association with The Economist and provides an annual assessment of global food security in over 100 countries.
Using this map produce a table to list:
- ten countries with a high level of food security
- ten countries with a low level of food security
For each of the groups, click the map to be provided with more information about these countries.
Identify particular strengths and challenges, e.g. food loss, corruption and investment in agriculture, and record which ones appear most frequently for each of the two sets of countries.
Use the activities and information in the Geography of Food GA online CPD unit to dig deeper into why food is such an important geographical issue.
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