Food shortages have been in the media lately with lower production levels in Victoria due to the Covid outbreak. We are assured there will sufficient of everything available but the fragility of many of our food systems and supply chains has become evident over the past six months when panic buying left supermarket shelves bare. Charities who distribute food have also been swamped as poorer sectors of society struggle to feed themselves and their families. So the edited volume For Hunger-Proof cities: sustainable urban food systems, seems like a suitable choice for this month’s readings. Hopefully it will provide some pointers as to how best to ensure everyone has access to fresh, healthy food on a regular basis.
Globalization over the last 30 years has been pressing national economies to become more interdependent. However, a view emerging from major sectors of the development community is that the reinstatement of a proper measure of food reliance is urgently needed. Today, most developing countries are net food importers, and their dependence on imports is growing. Combined with persistent constraints, from fiscal to physical, this dependence results in food insecurity for large sectors of the population, particularly the urban poor. (p. 11)
The antipoverty approach to food security is inseparable from macroeconomic and social policy analysis, for example high rates of unemployment, the polarization of the job market into ‘good’ jobs and ‘bad’ jobs, minimum wages well below the poverty line, inadequate welfare benefits, high costs of housing, regressive taxation policies, off-loading of social programs to communities, and the unequal distribution of wealth. The welfare state of the past was not perfect … but the antipoverty approach to food security rejects the destruction of the welfare state and the neoconservative values of individualism, competition, and inequality and proposes instead to restore values such as equality, fellowship, democracy, and humanitarianism to the foundation of social policy. (p. 31)
Experience has so far suggested that community agriculture can make an important contribution to understanding that environmental regeneration is the key to improving the local economy and the health of populations. … If agriculture by and for the community is integrated with existing initiatives within a local authority it may deliver a range of health, social, educational, environmental, community-development and economic benefits. (p. 52)
Urban agriculture, as a food-system initiative, is designed to benefit urbanites directly, but it has a positive effect on rural people as well. If urban people grow their own food, they are more likely to appreciate what rural farmers do for them. If they become used to the taste and quality of homegrown, organic foods, their expectations of purchased foods are likely to rise, and they are therefore more likely to demand more locally grown, pesticide-free food and be willing to pay more for such products. By taking food production and distribution out of the hands of large corporations, urban agriculture directly subverts the control wielded by transnationals. (p. 171)