What is Food Security and Why is it Important? (Part 1)

Food is a basic human need. We all know it is essential to life and health. But how much do we know about food security? Should we be concerned about our food security? Is there any connection between the current state of events and our food supply? 

Let’s begin to answer these questions by defining food security.”Food security is the measure of an individual’s ability to access food that is nutritious and sufficient in quantity. Some definitions of food security specify that food must also meet an individual’s food preferences and dietary needs for active and healthy lifestyles.” (concern.net). The main word for me in that definition is ACCESS. Food security means we have access to the foods we need to stay alive and meet our individual dietary needs.

Access to food is impacted by a number of variables, three of which are:
1. Money 

2. The availability of food 

3.The supply chain

More recently our food supply has been impacted by some of the measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 virus and even more recently the war between Russia and Ukraine. People tend to be considered food secure or insecure based on their economic standing. The poor tend to be more vulnerable to food insecurity, while those within higher income brackets usually enjoy high levels of food security. This has always been accepted to be facts. This is understandable. As an International Development practitioner myself, I get it. This is simple logic. It makes sense.

 
The challenge in this day and age, as we navigate this pandemic and now the war, is that we are seeing growing levels of food insecurity among those who are considered poor. A check of the various organizations that track poverty will tell you that food insecurity is on the rise and starvation which goes hand in hand with it, is also on the rise.


But there’s something we may be missing in this whole food security debate. It is the issue of availability. When supply chains are disrupted and shortages arise because of embargoes, sanctions or export restrictions, money becomes useless because there is no food to buy. That’s it. Plain and simple. You could have enough money to fill the oceans, if there’s no food being sold, there’s no food for your money to buy.

Aside from the obvious starvation, what are the implications of the unavailability of some basic food supplies and how can we mitigate this challenge. Check out my next blog for some tips and tricks to help you survive in the face of food shortages.