I’d much rather talk about food, eating, and our love of food than hunger and food insecurity. I am crazy about food, but I don’t like this food craziness I’m seeing in the world. I decided I should teach and write about what’s bugging me.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says 842 million people in the world are chronically malnourished. Meanwhile, the U.S. aims at reducing our whopping 20-30% obesity levels through TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and by adopting en-vogue diets in every season. Yet at the same time, even in the U.S., hunger is on a continuous rise in New York, and 10% of Americans experienced a lack of food in 2006.
There are also really positive experiences with food and eating that I hope to share in this space. It strikes me that having food choices and uniquely local foods is part of what makes some urban neighborhoods wonderful places to live. Now that I’m back in Brazil, I’m reminded about how important it is to me – and many Brazilians – that having fresh fruit in abundance is part of what makes this country dear to me. Talking about, thinking about, and writing about the social sides of food, aside from the socializing entailed in the act of eating, is a powerful means of addressing the too-often felt disconnect between health, humankind, and our habitat.
- How is food connected with politics, culture, and planning?
- How are urban areas and urban residents especially affected by the food system?
- What are some of the best examples of food producers and place-based foods that help make neighborhoods have “flavor?”
- What is the role of globalization in creating the food inequality problems that exist in the world?
- Who are the most food insecure populations, and why are they so vulnerable?
- How might we start immediately addressing the food problems that exist?
- How might we change the structure of food systems so that they are more just?
I, and my students on the IHP Cities of the 21st Century study abroad program, are going to start responding to these questions in some course sessions, and as we have conversations and experiences relating to food during our travels in New York City, Sao Paulo and Curitiba, Brazil, Cape Town, South Africa, and Aukland, New Zealand.