Last year, I shared my thoughts on World Food Day as someone with a full belly and lots of food available either in my home or in stores and restaurants nearby. This year, knowing today was coming, I thought I’d ask friends to share their thoughts on World Food Day (#WorldFoodDay) and Blog Action Day (#BAD11) with me to help me pull together my blog post. And I knew by asking my friends for thoughts, I would get a few people who would be glad to share their perspectives.
My friends always come through with a combination of making me think and making me laugh. So today, I’ll point to the insight of awesome people I know replying to my Facebook status asking “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase ‘World Food Day’? Let me explain the laughter because Kirk who always puts a smile on my face chimed in saying pizza was the first thing to come to mind for him, then seeing no agreement in my timeline, he said he was the only honest one there. Comic relief was good to have as the topic was one of great seriousness.
Thinking of Others
It seems that several people thought of others first and foremost. I think that’s reflective of some many of them are incredible giving folks. The kind that make me remember how lucky I am!
The first comment I got was from a dear friend from college. She is one of those people that you always wonder if they got tested on a scale to see if they were genius cause she’s always seemed like one to me. Shawna was one of those students on the pre-med track when we were in school, but never seemed to need to study to keep her incredible grades. I am sure she did study but only when we weren’t looking. Shawna has the energy level to keep you upbeat and moving and a heart as big as they come. Her husband is Syrian so we share a love of that incredible Mediterranean food. So it shouldn’t surprise me that Shawna’s world view was clear in her reply “Sharing our bounty…. knowledge there are those in the world without….desire a solution based on common humanity.”
My friend Sergey who lives in Volgograd, Russia and was amazingly helpful for me when I was writing my thesis. We’ve had a few other chances to visit, but flights to & from Volgograd tend to take a lot of planning and a decent amount of cash so we don’t see each other most. I have to say, communicating via email & social media has meant a bit more regular check ins as the post office was rarely efficient with letters. In a country as rich in resources as Russia, sadly Sergey still realizes “That someone somewhere wants to eat.”
Reality is, World Food Day gives us a chance to stop and think of things outside our sphere and we should be doing something about it. That’s why working in agriculture is so incredible for me. It gives me a chance to know I can contribute in a way that is truly needed. And yes, I added Mark’s photo here because as we talked this morning before he hit the road, he reminded me I’ve always been an idealist. Since he too has known me since college, I agree I am an idealist, an optimist but on the agriculture front, I have a lot of reasons I can be optimistic some of which are highlighted in this blog I did for the office this weekend.
My fellow St Louis resident (and yes, another college friend 🙂 ) Heather had a quick yet powerful reaction to hearing it was World Food Day – “Hunger.” Heather is like me one of the lucky ones. We have the luck of having been born into possibilities in the US. We have choices at the grocery store and restaurants whenever we are hunger but so many are not so fortunate. The reality is there are some places in the world where the very concept of plenty of food is unimaginable. Some of those places may require planes, trains and automobiles to reach but there are also families and individuals in our hometowns who feel the pain of hunger routinely. The type of pain that is never answered for long as there is no promise food will be available for the next meal time. It was this thought that was driving me as I volunteered at the Harry Chapin Food Bank where they’ve found ways to be sure the hungry get fresh, nutritious foods along with things that store well. I need to find a place in St. Louis where I can contribute some time toward that goal as well as my day to day job which is part of the ag industry in the US that helps keep food prices lower here than in so many places.
My sister Leslie pointed out “the uneven distribution of food in the world” and its a complex topic, one that my friend Sarah who also works in ag communications shared saying “I’m w Leslie; that we have excess and so many don’t have enough!” Wow. That’s big and incredible real. There are several pieces to that too. For instance, with some of the environments in the world, production has soared based on soils, weather, etc while other places are not at all able to feed themselves. Some of the remote places in the world don’t have the infrastructure — roads, trains, functioning markets, etc are critical to distribution. There are also numerous financial and political impediments. Such complexity of issues helps me see that its important that the needs are highlighted, discussed and MORE IMPORTANTLY acted upon through gatherings like the World Food Prize Symposium. I’m proud to know many scientists who are working in breeding programs trying to find ways to increase productivity of plants in highly stressed areas as well as biotech programs too.
Farmers Have a Voice
On my Facebook page, it never takes long for someone to mention farmers! My colleague Trish was happy to to be the one who put the farmer foot forward saying “Farmers. Without them we have no food.” With that in mind, I want to help you hear from some of the men & women who produce food for their homes and communities, ie some of the farmers I am lucky enough to know.
- Making It Personal (wagfarms.com) — My friend Val is in North Dakota so when she wrote about “Going local”a buzz word for many, I had to wonder what she would come up with.
- Organic vs. Conventional Dairy (TheWifeOfADairyman.blogspot.com) Nancy lives in an area where local food as well as organic is widely discussed. She was inspired to write a blog post explaining the differences.
- Is it ok that I don’t buy organic food? (www.beyerbeware.net) Leah’s family is focused on producing safe products for animal and human consumption, but is it organic? Does that matter?
- Let’s talk about food on Blog Action Day (www.causematters.com/blog) Michele has had a number of farmers guest post and she combines photos from some of those efforts with thoughts on food conversations.
- This Is So Country (www.agricultureproud.com) Most of my life and work has taken place on the beginning end of beef production – raising cattle that will one day end as beef on my plate. During calving season earlier this year I helped save a young calf with its mother got sick. Taking care of these calves and making sure they have a healthy start to life is just another day in my life on the ranch.
- Make a difference on World Food Day (gilmerdairy.blogspot.com) Will Gilmer and his family farm in Alabama. He’s the singing dairyman I’ve spoken of. He talks about the history of milking & farming for his family.
Great post, Janice! Your posts are always a fantastic resource, and you share so much useful information and perspective. When I think about World Food Day, I think of how lucky I have been. While my family always struggled financially when I was a child, we always had access to the food we needed (even if many times it was Spaghettio’s and Top Ramen noodles). Many around the world don’t have the luxury of even “cheap” foods. Undernourishment and malnourishment run rampant in developing countries. I feel blessed, but I also feel compelled to help in any way I can.
I highly suggest everyone check out this charity, Feed My Starving Children: http://www.fmsc.org/ It is a group based in the Chicago West Suburbs that prepares, packages, and ships high-nutrient, healthy food in a cost-effective way to the areas that need it most. It’s my favorite charity and a fantastic cause!
That sounds like a great organization! I really want to find an org here in St. Louis that matches up. I’ve been very lucky even if I could point to problems, having been to places where true hunger exists, I know my challenges have been inconsequential at best.
Great post, Janice. Thanks for tackling this.
You’re welcome! I had awesome help!
Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) says
I don’t know, JP…I sort of disagree with Kelly. I find your post sort of boring…sorry.
NOT…got you, didn’t I?
what now Bruce? You joking? TELL ME ITS NOT SO! LOL
TruffleMediaJohnBlue (@TruffleMedia) says
Thanks again for the post info pointing to variety of blogs that cover farm, ag, and food. 🙂
Janice, I like how you visited with a variety of people before writing this post. Just a sentence or two from a different perspective can be a great insight to food producers. This post offers much “food for thought.”
Glad to hear it! I thought they did a great job of bringing up topics I could have easily overlooked.