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A definition of Food Security:

"Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life."

World Bank

Food prices are going up. Consumers in the UK will have noticed the sharp rises at supermarket tills. 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.

Residents of the United Kingdom 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 they will eat that day. The tremendous range on offer (thousands of different products in a typical store) also contrasts with the rather more limited diet of most of the world's population.

The irony is that a perusal of the 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.

Which geographical concept(s) would this connect with?

Broccoli from Morocco
Broccoli from Morocco
Green Beans from Egypt
Green Beans from Egypt
Parmesan from Italy
Parmesan from Italy

A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) in December 2008 said that food prices had risen by 28% in that year, plunging another 40 million people into hunger. Outside the UK, the issue of food security therefore gains greater significance, and life or death choices need to be made: women face the choice between feeding themselves, or their children.

How would you cope in these situations?
What would you be prepared to do in order to ensure that your children were adequately fed?
What strategies are already being used by people in the UK and elsewhere?

Activity 1: A Starter Image

Photo Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith / Oxfam

Take a look at this image which shows the amount of rice that a wage in Cambodia could buy in 2008 compared to 2007.

What might have caused this situation to happen?

How are you and your students being affected by the rising cost of food?

Activity 2: A Controverisal Issue

This is certainly a 'controversial issue' . These are issues which:

'...are likely to be sensitive or controversial are those that have a political, social or personal impact and arouse feeling and/or deal with questions of value or belief.' from Citizenship: A scheme of work for key stage 3: Teacher's guide, QCA 2001.

What is it about the issue of food supply and inequalities in availability that make this a 'controversial' topic? Jot down your thoughts.

Activity 3: Living Geography

This issue offers a chance to explore what the GA calls 'Living Geography'. It is a topic which students should be engaging with if their programme of study is to be seen as relevant to their personal 'lived' geographies.

A Living Geography piece of work should be one that:

  • embraces young people's geography and experiences
  • is current and future oriented
  • is local but set in wider (global) contexts
  • raises questions of change, sustainability and development

How does the topic of 'Food Security' allow for these to be explored?

Activity 4: Shocking statistics

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 courses, reflect on the Millennium Development Goal 1: to 'Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger by 2015'. See the United Nations website for more about this.

How likely is the goal to be achieved?

What issues might prevent this goal from being achieved?

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