By the middle of this century, the world’s farmers will have another 2.4-billion mouths to feed, half of which will be in Africa. But if we only focus on producing more calories of food per hectare, and throttling back population growth in order to fill the gap, we won’t address the more complex reasons why our modern food system leaves us hungry, heavy, and sick, argues science writer LEONIE JOUBERT.
It was telling that the apex dignitary invited to last week’s Global Food Security Conference in Cape Town was the Minister of Agriculture. Even though the “wicked” problem of food insecurity was framed in its usual three ways – a devil’s weave of hunger, micro-nutrient deficiency, and overweight/obesity – there still wasn’t any sign that the Ministers of Health or Social Development should be leading the charge to fix a food system that appears awash with calories, but nevertheless leaves so many hungry and heavy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is finally recognising the need to change the unhealthy food environment, rather than focusing on instructing individuals on how to behave within that environment. Looking at the speaker line-up of the Global Food Security Conference, it’s clear that this message still needs to trickle down to some levels of academia.