Food Security and Organic Food
by Pedro Rodriguez
Organic food includes vegetables, fruits, grains, and any agricultural crop that has been grown or produced using organic methods, which are based on building healthy soil naturally without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, no genetically modi?ed organisms (GMOs), no sewage sludge, and no irradiation are used in organic agriculture.
Through this cultural phenomenon of organic and sustainable farming and building local food networks, people are able reconnect to their community through their food. Farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and community gardens lead to greater social connectedness. In other words, organic farming can provide cultural, economic, and social opportunities for both rural and urban areas. Furthermore, because organic farming methods do not rely on synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals, they do not poison streams, lakes, or rivers. Many of the ecological benefits of organic farming are therefore as pronounced as the social benefits.
“Food security” means having dependable access to sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious food to meet basic dietary needs. We lack food security if we need to resort to means such as emergency food aid, begging, or stealing to acquire enough food to sustain us.
Global food security requires food security for all people, everywhere. Today’s global food system relies heavily on the global market economy to provide national food security. In times of food scarcity, global markets ration available supplies in relation to the ability to pay, without regarding actual needs.
The quality of food is very important but not only in regards to its nutritional contents. Real food security policies should focus on supporting local farmers and food producers, and those farmers must be committed to maintaining the productivity of their land naturally, thinking in the long term, not just thinking on a seasonal or yearly basis.
The local food movement is the most tangible expression of these growing concerns. Locavores (people who prefer to buy locally produced goods and services) have the potential to not only promote their own local community’s food security but also to eventually link sustainable community-based food systems together, regionally and nationally.
In Guatemala the institution in charge of food security is Secretaría de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional (SESAN, www.sesan.gob.gt/). In Quetzaltenango several NGOs and local businesses are gathering together with Food Security as the common concern, creating a network called RED Verde, to improve the local food movement in Xela. Be aware and join us.