World Food Day: Sustaining the food chain

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    The first World Food Day was in 1981 with a simple title ‘Food Comes First’. Further titles included ‘Women in Agriculture’, ‘Rural Youth’, ‘Food For The Future and ‘Food For The Environment’. The 2013 event boasts the rather cumbersome, but no less worthy title ‘Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition’.

    The organization states that with one in eight people in the world suffering from chronic hunger and the planet’s population growing, the production of basic staple foods will need to increase by 60% to meet the expected growth in demand. Two billion people worldwide lack the micronutrients vital for good health – over and above the basics we need fruit, vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods.

    How we grow, process, deliver and eat our food has an impact on how healthy the food chain really is. Environmentally we can make big improvements in getting the most food from water and land resources for the future.

    Running concurrently with World Food Day is Global Handwashing Day. At first sight that may seem a rather obvious, mundane act – surely it does not require a day dedicated to it. But Elynn Walter of WASH Advocates says: “When I was a child, my parents taught me the importance of washing my hands, which was reinforced in school. In every class from preschool until the end of elementary school, we washed our hands before lunch. The handwashing ritual and the importance of hygiene for a healthy life were ingrained in me forever.”

    Across the developing world, simple handwashing with soap can reduce incidence of diarrhea by approximately 45%. Part of the problem is the lack of knowledge about how the disease is transmitted.

    “Washing your hands before you eat is not a hard concept, but it does need to be taught. There are many mothers, community leaders, NGOs, governments, and private sector companies working to raise awareness and change behavior around handwashing.”

    For more info on both initiatives: www.worldfooddayusa.org