Sunday 16th October is World Food Day 2016, otherwise known as #WFD2016 in the Twittersphere.
World Food Day.
For me, every day is food day. I recently admitted on Twitter that I begin thinking about breakfast at roughly 9pm the night before. Lunch springs into my noggin at about 10 minutes past breakfast time and as for dinner, well, you get the message. When I’m not writing about food, taking photographs of food or making food, I’m invariably
wasting time on the internet reading about food.
Which is why my awareness of World Food day came to pass. There’s an organisation known as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, or FAO for short. Not LMFAO, or ‘For the Attention Of’, but a group formed by the United Nations on 16th October 1945 working with the interests of food and agriculture in an effort to defeat hunger. The words ‘Fiat Panis’ are emblazoned across their logo, not because they are sponsored by the latest little hot hatch from the Italian car conglomerate, but due to it being their Latin motto, meaning “Let there be bread”.
OMG This is Exciting!
I wanted to write about this because it’s an important day to take note of. I struggle writing about these institutions and days, they sound interminably boring, despite the fact they handle existential threats to every single one of us. I’m trying to work out an angle that doesn’t make the plight of starving millions and their access to food sound quite as detached from urban London life as it can often seem. I just want to try and convey how someone like myself sitting in a little flat in East London with his dog can actually make any difference to the world.
The Power of You.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day is the climate, so get out there and change it. Only joking. I know you can’t change the climate, if you could, then every holiday would be a dream. You could step off the plane and select the temperature, humidity and chance of precipitation. Awesome.
But you can’t do that. Climate change is like those coin pusher machines at the seaside arcade. You stick a coin in, nothing happens. 10 people stick coins in and yet, nothing happens. 100 people can stick coins in, etc etc. But eventually, enough people put coins in and things do happen. Climate change also works in the other direction, if people stop putting things in, the coins actually start to come back out, very, very slowly. It’s a cumulative effect. Like living in a democratic society, if one person chooses not to vote then it makes very little difference to the overall outcome of an election. But if a few million people choose to vote in a certain direction, it can have a very big impact.
That’s why climate change is important on an individual level. The smallest, almost imperceptible changes in one person’s lifestyle can actually have an enormous effect when combined with the actions of other people around the world. Just because you didn’t organise your actions directly with those other people, it doesn’t mean that your efforts are worthless. One person making a positive change is all I ask for, because that’s all we are, individuals, it can only happen on an individual level, one person at a time.
Fat Cows and Gas.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 24% of greenhouse gases come from agriculture, forestry and other land uses, although this is largely agriculture. Within that figure, cattle will be one of the largest contributors. Beef. Fat steaks or beef carpaccio, either way it’s the biggie when it comes to greenhouse gases. When I was at university I worked out that a human being walking, solely fuelled by energy from steak is more damaging to the environment than driving a car. The figures were pure fag-pack calculations back in 2002, but the essence of the message is that however you look at it, a piece of beef comes with a quite large environmental bill attached.
Here’s What You Can Do.
If you want to actually do something. If you want to take part in World Food Day, there are a couple of very, very simple things you can do. They all save you money as well.
1) Don’t throw away any food. Eat it, freeze it or just don’t buy it in the first place.
2) Eat a little bit less meat. On Sunday, when it’s world food day, just drop the meat. Here’s a few ideas for meals instead:
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mexican Casserole from Annabel at The Flexitarian
Warm Barley Salad with Chickpeas, Nuts and Dried Fruit from Maryam at The Persian Fusion
Sweet and Spicy Bulgur Bake from some strange man called Gavin at Le Petit Oeuf
That’s it. Nothing that’s going to make your world a horrid, unpleasureable place or challenge your right to freedom of choice. It’s just some simple, little tweaks to how you consider the food you eat. Stop for a moment, question yourself, consider WHY you eat what you eat, make a small change. You might not realise it, but when it comes to climate change and World Food Day, you’re actually very important.