Food for thought On World food day

16 October 2013

Today is World Food Day. To me it is one of the most important days of the year. A day during which to stop for a moment and think about the fact that people still suffer from chronic hunger. A total of 842 million people, or around one in eight people in the world, are estimated to be suffering from chronic hunger. Anselm Iwundu, Director Fairfood International, calls for governments to ensure that companies are transparent in supply chains, and on consumers to demand that the food in stores is produced in a sustainable way.

The world at our breakfast table

When we look at our breakfast table in the morning we can see the world at our table. Coffee from Guatemala, tea from Sri Lanka, meat from Brazil … our food comes from all over the world. We have plenty to eat and often we waste food by carelessly throwing it away. One-third of all the food produced worldwide is lost. This is a loss of 565 billion euros, which has a very negative impact on the environment. According to the FAO the unnecessary food waste lead to higher Co2 emissions, additional water consumption and a reduction in biodiversity.

Start with women farmers

I am convinced that it is possible to have a sustainable food system. A world with a sustainable food system – what would such a world look like? I want to start at the beginning – the farmer, because without a farmer there is no food on our plates. In developing countries women are responsible for 60-80 % of the food production. However, women experience more problems than men when it comes to access to land, obtaining credit and other possible resources. Research therefore shows that food production could rise by 30% if women would receive easier access to these resources and money for their products.


Governments need to ensure that companies publicly disclose information concerning their efforts to eradicate trafficking and slavery from their supply chains, so consumers can decide from which company they wish to buy or do business.

Pineapple for 1 euro

Ultimately, there is an important task for us consumers. It was not long time ago that a pineapple was a special and very expensive fruit. Of course it is nice that we nowadays can buy a fresh pineapple for just 1 euro. It is also the price we pay for knowing that people on the other side of the world are working in unhealthy conditions and underpaid. If we all demand that the food that we buy in our supermarket is produced in a fair and sustainable way then the supermarkets will listen. Just look at what happened when Jamie Oliver found out that the turkey twizzler contained more than twice the recommended amount of fat when cooked. The turkey was removed from school menus and it prompted a fresh look at what children were fed.

If we all – businesses, consumers and governments – join forces, it will be possible to preserve our food and thus eliminate chronic hunger from the world. How amazing would it be if we would not need a World Food day anymore?