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food security

The politics of food

This post is long overdue! There is lot of confusion, misconception, misunderstanding and general ignorance about food; how it is produced, how it is distributed and why our food is under threat.

A lot of people take for granted that there is an abundance supply of cheap food. The local supermarkets never run out of food – cheap food, which is a misconception. Most supermarkets would be empty within 48 hours if not replenished on a constant basis, but this does not imply that the food is fresh, in the case of fresh produce.

Do people ever wonder where the food comes from? Most people are so disconnected from their food source and hence, fail to make the vital food connection; production, agricultural practice, supply chain and retailing.

If only food could talk and tell its story, it is anything but cheap.

Supermarket “fresh” food is often grown all over the place, and then transported across a great distance to a centralised location where it is prepared and packaged for redistribution throughout the country, often to end up on the shelf of a local supermarket in a location where the food was originally produced, i.e. carrots and potatoes.  And fresh is a misnomer. Food that has been transported over a vast distance and within the process, manipulated to withstand the journey is anything but fresh. Of course, this does not apply to every fresh produce but is relevant to a wide selection like broccoli, carrots, potatoes, apples and tomatoes to name a few.

The manipulation of our food comes in various disguises from spraying and waxing treatment to equally harmful form of radiation and pesticide treatment for imported food items such as garlic and bananas.

Food production cannot be taken for granted vis-à-vis peak oil ad climate change. These two factors will have a huge impact on our food supply not just regionally but also globally. A recent UN report forecasted that we would have to pay more for food in the near future:

The only way to ensure food security is to have it grown locally and organically. This means eating food that is in season and suitable for local cultivation. Agriculturally, it means food grown within a certain kilometre radius of where we live, usually between 100 to 200 kilometres.

Recently, there has been a lot of news coverage especially in WA where organic farmers have been affected by GMO contamination from neighbouring plots. If you are not familiar with GMO, you need to get educated on the topic:

Friends of the Earth Australia has produced a GMO free shopping guide available for free from their site and most health food stores and organic retailers:

There is no room for complacency when it comes to GMO in our food supply.

So get out of the house into the garden and plant some edibles today!


About Urban permaculturist

I have an interest in sustainability; from food security to renewable energy. I am also a keen food gardener and vegetarian cook. For more information, check out my blog at:


4 thoughts on “The politics of food

  1. Great post Zainil! Thanks for the links 🙂

    Posted by Sarah | January 5, 2011, 5:51 pm
  2. thanks Zainil and Happy New Year – hope you are enjoying the holiday season! great information!

    Posted by Monique | January 7, 2011, 1:23 pm

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