WRITTEN BY KATLIN TILLY
LEG 7 GALAPAGOS TO EASTER ISLAND WITH PERKINELMER
Food. It has the potential to restore the health of our environment or send us into unprecedented environmental destruction. It is something that each of us interacts with everyday and yet we have also become more distant from its roots than ever in history. So how can we use such a simple element of life on earth to not only reduce our plastic pollution but also improve the health of people and ecosystems?
(Photo credit: Katlin Tilly/eXXpedition)
Food Security Explained
When visiting places such as The Galápagos and Easter Island, the problems of food security become very obvious – islands have a unique ability to demonstrate the concept of resource scarcity. Food security looks at a nations’ ability to provide sufficient access to consistent, affordable and nutritious food. If we relate this to our journey from Galápagos to Easter Island, we ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables after the first week. If Easter Island is one of the world’s most remote places, we must ask, how are they able to access consistent, affordable and nutritious food?
Why does Food Security Matter?
Small islands are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Due to limited space, undesirable growing conditions or a lack of industry support, a majority of food is imported. This creates three key negative impacts – Firstly, it creates a trade imbalance as the local economy is not supported and money is often sent to larger nations. The added costs of transportation and sometimes taxes also reduces the affordability of the food. Secondly, when fresh produce travels long distances, the nutritional value is generally reduced. If fresh produce is a lower quality and more expensive, people are more inclined to opt towards processed foods. This is creating major health impacts such as obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Finally, food importation creates major environmental impacts. Food importing results in the transportation of food from trucks to trains to boats to planes. All of which is greatly contributing to our carbon emissions. In addition to this, when food is transported it requires much more packaging which is a major element of plastic pollution. Finally, imported food often comes from large scale commercial farms which may not have the most sustainable farming practices.
(Photo credit: Katlin Tilly/eXXpedition)
So How Can you Help to Change Food Security?
- Support local farmers: The fastest and easiest way to know you are improving food security is through shopping locally. This has add on benefits including boosting the local economy, reducing your carbon footprint, eating seasonally and improving your own health. Visit farmers markets, talk to local farmers or sign up to local food delivery services.
- Reduce food wastage: Globally approximately 30% of all food produced is wasted. This can be from the producers to grocery stores to individual consumers. Each time food is wasted the resources (such as water, land, fuel and labour) that went into producing that food is all wasted. Personal choices such as supporting wonky fruit and veg, reusing leftovers and only buying what you will actually eat will all help to reduce this issue. Composting any food scraps will not only turn food waste into a resource but it will reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill (food cannot breakdown naturally when left in a plastic bin liner in landfill).
- Consider your meat consumption: This doesn’t mean you can never eat meat again, but try to at least pay more attention to the meat you are eating. Perhaps cut down the serving size, only eat meat once a week or only eat meat when you know that it has come from a sustainable and ethical source. There is a lot of variables that go into people’s personal meat intake. Try to find a balance that works for you and something that you believe is a sustainable level of consumption
- Eat less processed food: Food processing requires significant amounts of transportation, packaging and energy. The more our food reflects what is grown in nature the better for us and the planet. Over hundreds of years nature has perfected natural packaging and balances of nutrients so let’s leave it to nature and just eat real food.
- Support sustainable farming practices: Or even grow some of your own food. Regenerative agriculture or permaculture have the ability to not only support local ecosystems but also store excess carbon from the atmosphere. Look into how your food is grown or better yet create your own veggie patch.
- Slow down: Return to how we used to consume food. Throughout history food has had the power to develop cultures and bring communities together. In recent years, however, our relationship with food is shifting. We are trying to fast forward it. We microwave it, we eat it on the go, we drink it in a shake. If we can slow down and appreciate a family meal, appreciate how the food was grown and appreciate every element that made that meal available, society will celebrate food again instead of abusing it and taking it for granted.
Desert Island Song: Paradise by the dashboard light – Meatloaf
Must Have Luxury Item: Journal and speakers