Christine Milne recently gave a speech in Parliament about “food security, food sovereignty, [and] the Year of the Farmer”.
In it, the term “food security” is mentioned repeatedly; it’s a term we see used quite a lot in the public discourse, though usually without a definition. It’s similar, in this respect, to the precautionary principle, something that I’ve spent some some time digging in to for the upcoming Behind the Seams project.
Anyway, I’ve done a bit of digging on “food security”, and found that there are apparently a huge number of definitions floating around. The UN FAO’s document repository has a handy discussion of some official ones, showing how the term has evolved over time. The first mentioned, from the 1974 World Food Summit is as follows:
“availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”
by 2001, however, the FAO used the following, considerably expanded definition.
“Food security [is] a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”
“food preferences” is a somewhat problematic concept if defined too expansively. If I had the funds, my food preferences would probably extend to regular samplings of the degustation menu at Vue de Monde; but clearly any definition of me as not having “food security” would be an outrageous mockery.
With that background, I’d be very interested to have a general discussion of the concept. Some starter questions:
- Has a significant fraction of [white] Australia not had food security (based on the FAO 2001 definition interpreted sensibly) at any time since the Second Fleet’s arrival in 1790?
- When were the last major episodes of the “old West” (the Anglosphere and western Europe) suffering mass food insecurity?
- Excluding food insecurity caused directly by war?
- Do countries like Japan and the United Kingdom have food security?
- How will foreign-owned farms in Australia affect Australian or global food security?
- Is access to cheap red meat a key element of Australian food security?
- Is the 2001 FAO definition of food security a satisfactory one, and if not, why not, and what would you prefer?