Sunday, October 16, 2011
Welcome to Blog Action Day 2011, where the theme this year is food. There are a few things in this life that have such a universal impact and application as food. Everyone needs food to survive regardless of your nationality or religion, regardless if you're rich or poor, regardless if you're single or have a family to raise, food is something that touches is all daily. For this reason, the people at Blog Action Day, have selected a wonderful topic for this year's event. This year's event will happen along with World Food Day. I thought that I'd touch on several of the suggested topics that were suggested for the event.
I've been involved in Blog Action Day since 2007 and really like being part of a blogger community that can come together yearly on a single subject to bring awareness to that subject. This year Blog Action Day is expected to involve more that 2,250 bloggers from over 100 countries and since 2007 more than 10,000 bloggers have participated.
What is your favorite food? It doesn't matter who you are, you're bound to have a favorite food, dish, or recipe. For many of us there are some wonderful (and sometimes not wonerful memories) associated with our favorite food. Maybe your favorite food is your mom's meatloaf or that cherry cobbler that your grandma used to make, or it might just be the new recipe that you're planning for today or the next thing that you're going to cook. What is your favorite food?
Depending upon when and where you've grown up (or are growing up), you've probably heard that there are straving people in Africa. This might have been used by your parents as a tactic to get you finish eating everything on your plate (or at least eat more of what is on your plate). There have been lots of droughts and famine thoughout the years and Africa has certainly plagued by a lot of them. I'm sure that many of you have often wondered what you could do to help out the people in areas of the world that are afflicted by famines and droughts. You may have even made donations to organizations helping in this area or given your time, certainly there is lots of work to be done in this area.
Are you organic in your food consumption? Everyday more and more people are eating more and more organic foods. There is more and more of an effort to grow our own food or buy food from local farmers that grow food organically. More and more people are wanting to get away from food that is produced with chemicals, pesticides, and a host of unnatural and unhealthy things that can do all kinds of things to our bodies that are not even fully studied or understood today. The expression that you are what you eat comes to mind.
Do you find yourself eating a lot of "fast food" or do you eat more "slow food"? While it is easy to assume that everyone knows what fast food is, in many parts of the world there is no McDonalds or even a local supermarket with perpared food that you can eat immediately, heat in the microwave, or cook rather easily in the microwave. People that love to cook will likely cook more of their own meals and savor the process of making their meals. People that have decided to live healthier lifestyles and have made eating more healthy a priority will have more "slow food". With the hustle and bustle of many of our lifestyles, there are plenty of people that don't have the time to sit down to a meal at their home and will grab something on the run. How much slow food do you eat?
What is the environmental impact of the food that you eat? You might have heard about your carbon footprint, or how much carbon dioxide is created as a result of things that you do and choices that you make but have you given any thought to the food choices that you make? The Blog Action Day website estimates that it takes 24 liters of water to produce just a single hamburger and that it would take 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe. There are plenty of other environmental impacts based on our food choices but this an more obvious one that is easily understood.
Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or meat eater? There are variety of differing lifestyles that people are living. Some people have food alergies and shy away from certain foods or have to take some kind of pill or medicine to be able to eat the foods that they're alergic too. Some people don't eat dairy, others might not eat beef or red meat, some might only eat meat occassionally, while others eat meat every day. Many of the world religions have guidelines and rules for what we can and cannot eat as well as all of our personal tastes and beliefs on this.
It is projected that there will be 9 billion people on our planet in 2050. How will we be able to feed all of these people? How will our rapid population growth effect world and local politics and the use of our planet's limited resources? We don't seem to be doing so well in feeding the people we have now, what kind of planning our we doing to cope with so many people on this planet?
Everyday lots of food is wasted and thrown away. There are lots of reasons for this and lots of justifcations that are made but there is a lot of food that is thrown away and not benefiting the people that could really use it. There are health regulations in place that restuarants and stores have to follow about food that isn't eaten or sold. At the household level there is plenty of food that goes bad because we haven't eaten it in time or that we just throw away.
You don't need to watch too nuch television or read too many articles before you stumble upon some story about malnutrition in our society today. You hear more and more about the problems of obsesity in American and the various health related problems of diabeties, heart disease, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. This is often attributed to lifestyle choices, but malnutriion in much of the world is not a lifestyle choice made by the people themselves but forced on them by a variety of circumstances. The local soil may not support very many crops, they may not have access to clean and safe water, the people might not be able to afford to buy enough land to grown their own food, or any other number of legitimate reasons that they're not able to properly feed themselves (not to mention famine and war).
More and more people are growing their own food. This gives them more control over how the food is grown, what chemicals and pesticides are used in their growth, and there is a satisfaction that comes from growing what you're putting on your plate. There are plenty of challenges with growing your own food, such as having enough space to grow what you want to grow and having the right conditions to grow what you want to grow. Many crops take weeks and months to grow to the point where they can be eaten which requires additional planning so that you have enough to eat or can supplement what you grow. Learning how to grow what you need takes time and is a learning experience. Lots of people have gardens just for the fun if it with no real plan for this to be their main source of food, they enjoy their connection with nature.
What is the best way to farm food? Over the years many of the family farms have been sold or foreclosed and less and less land is being used to produce food. Many of he bigger farms become corporations that are only looking after their bottom line and not necessarily the health and well being of the general public. If proper crop rotation is not done, the land is striped of valuable minerals needed to grow crops and the soil can be damaged and the types of crops that can be produced becomes more and more limited. When farms use hazaordus chemicals and pesticides in the production of food, much of these chemicals and pesticides are carried off into the local water ecosystem and end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. More and more farms are factory farms where animals are gaged up in small areas and never really get to move around. In some cases is is possible to buy "free range" products, meaning that the animals are able to move around outside of small cages. There have been a few cases of mad cow disease and other scares that make you question of ability of the regulatory agencies to do the job that they've been tasked with. Cutting the budgets of these agenices doesn't make any of us really safer.
What does food mean to your culture? I've lived in America for much of my life as well as having lived in Germany for a few years, so I've been able to experience what food means in two different cultures. I know how Germans and Americans like to grill in the Summer and when the weather permits. With so much of what we do, food is often playing a central or key role. There was a time when a lot happened at the dinner table what does food mean to your culture?
I hope that you'll think about some of the things that I've written, check out the Blog Action Day website and some of the other posts that are part of this year's event. There are lots of ways that you can participate in this year's event and make an impact that goes beyond today. With some major elections going on next year in the U.S. we have the chance to let the candidates know that food does matter to everyone.
You might also want to check out:
My Blog Action Day posts from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
*Note last year I did a series of posts for Blog Action Day including an experiement with Blip.fm, so the post mentioned for 2010 is a recap and includes links to what I did last year.
"Harvest" courtesy of djackson44.