Write up on food security

[size=100][font=courier]Sharing with you, a fellow natural farmer’s views on food security.


[size=120][font=times new roman]FOOD SECURITY - Johny Mathew, Pottamkulam

Before I write about food security we have to understand what food is and the requirement for its security. Food is something that gives you the energy to function and keeps you alive. This is true for both plant and animal kingdoms. Plants process their food directly from sunlight, water and soil while animals, including human beings depend upon plants and other animals. From time immemorial the method of taking energy (food) from a source has not changed for plants and animals except for human beings.

In ancient times, food was always available. We used to run after it or gather it from our neighborhood, when we felt hunger. This was just to quench our hunger and based on our immediate needs only. Then we learned the art of farming so that food was available at arm’s length and we were able to store required quantity based on our immediate as well as future need (or greed). Later we learnt various methods like storing, freezing, packing, and processing it so that food will be kept for long, thus making it more convenient for consumption. These transformations have taken place in thousands of years.

We still run after our food. Not like ancient times with sharp tools, but with present day tools, sharp minds, money and credit cards. Actually we don’t run after our food now, but after the money that may secure our food. We think that the storage system, processing system and the credit systems all make food secure for us. Yet is our food secure or safe enough? Did the so proclaimed Green Revolution give us a sustainable productivity or the public distribution systems assured a sustainable availability? The answer is, NO.

In ancient times, before the arrival of organized farming, animals, plants and human beings all had food security with their natural and sustainable methods. During that time food security meant, having good food for all, at all times. They lost it only when there was an undue interference with nature.

So how did our food security weaken? This started when agriculture became agribusiness. In this era of ‘profit only’ business culture, we need power and everything depends only on power. Ethics and values are cultures of the past. We lost food security to a system of ‘ruling only for power’ and using distribution system to control power. Food is always there. We either don’t produce enough or do not have the money to secure it. Now food itself is a weapon in the pursuit of power. Control over seeds is the latest strategy. Food security is controlled by seed control. This has become possible because farmers have lost their traditional agricultural systems and seeds. At present, modern science rules over age-old experiences and agricultural practices.

When population increased, the number of farmers did not increase accordingly because modern science supplemented by chemicals and machinery had replaced farmers, in the name of so-called “productivity”. Though the system seemed to be a success in the beginning, the quality of soil and environment decreased so much that the scientific system is failing now.  Actually, modern science has shown us means to have more sustainability, but, our greed for money and profit has misused science. Thus, Food became expensive and inferior in quality.

Over the past years -

The number of persons consuming food has increased, but
The number of persons who produce it (farmers) has decreased.
The production and productivity of food has increased, but
The quality of food has drastically decreased.
The prices of food has increased, but
The sharing of food has decreased.
The control over food has increased for a few, but
The availability has decreased for the masses.

Let us take a look at water. Water is also food, which was available free and safe. Now there is scarcity and we buy it. Overuse, misuse, and contamination of water are seen everywhere. It is alarming in a state like Kerala, with more than enough rainfall and rivers, when people buy not only their drinking water but also water for their other daily needs. Our greed and lack of responsibility to nature has resulted to this situation. If we do not correct ourselves now, it won’t be much longer before we start buying our fresh air also.

So how do we secure our food, water and air and maintain the quality of all these necessities? Depending only on chemical farming and more mineral water bottling plants is not the answer. Do not follow modern science blindly. Science, human values, and our responsibility to nature all will have to merge together. This is how the organic farming systems evolved. The organic farmer wanted to maintain a healthy soil and environment for a sustainable production and the consumer wanted safe and healthy produce. To enjoy good and safe food, we need to encourage more people to take up farming and make it remunerative enough for them. Let everyone learn the art of producing food with whatever little space they have, terraces or even window sills.

Let us understand the limitations of science in producing healthy food. Food, to most people is what they get in a packet. Children nowadays connect milk not to a cow but to the plastic bag or to the milk man. Fruits they get the idea from the picture on the cover, the taste what the packet offers. They do not have an idea what food comes from which plant. Tomorrow, misuse of modern science for profit may take the picture of the packet. Then it is the processor who will decide what the food looks like and what it tastes like for his convenience.

You can’t have food security without food sovereignty. Make it a habit to take one meal or one dish you have grown. Sensible production of food for food security is like good exercise for healthy life. There is no easy way out. No pain no gain. Don’t think your money is going to secure your food or make it safe. Food is not safe the way it is produced and delivered. It is a combination of colour and taste in an attractive packing. The nutritive values mentioned on the cover are no substitute for the fresh and natural food. We let ourselves be fooled by food ads which convince us of its quality. Today what we take is not a well balanced diet, but food that is rich in calories. We even prefer soft drinks to fresh water. Our ignorance and laziness aggravated further by ads put us into the hands of the greedy who want to control our food security.

If you don’t secure your food with good agriculture practices, someone else is going to do it for their own profit. When seeds also become secure in these hands, food security is completely lost. Like seeds, knowledge and health care are to be shared and should not be chained and controlled by a few for their profit. Use science discreetly. Equally important to food security is the safety of food and the environment, the basic amenities which support human race. The qualities of these are going down fast and shamelessly we consume the produce of our greed and laziness. We may have developed much with science from simple machinery to gleaming robots, but we also are contributing to global warming which is destroying our nature and environment. Let us make our food and its security safe. Let running after food to secure it with ancient tools or modern tools be of the past.  Learn to grow your own food and share it with others.[/font][/size]