Agriculture · Food

Feeding the hungry

This week I had the privilege of attending the Manitoba Food Processors Association (MFPA) Annual General Meeting and Tradeshow. This is one of my favorite events to attend partly because of the excellent food served. And not just any food… Manitoba-made food products. We enjoyed locally grown potatoes and asparagus, Manitoba certified Angus beef, and more. The MFPA also handed out its annual Industry Excellence Awards, honoring the best new products for both large and small businesses, company of the year, supplier of the year, employer of the year, employee of the year, the industry builder award and president’s award. It truly was a celebration of industry leaders and Manitoba-made food products.

However, as I was devouring my delicious dinner I couldn’t help but think of all the good food that will go to waste at an event such as this and all the hungry people in the world. Perhaps I also thought of that because earlier this week I came across an Oxfam report warning of an impending world-wide food crisis. The report says that by 2050, demand for food will grow by 70 to 90 per cent but factors such as climate change, population growth and rising energy prices will lead to declining supplies. While we still have low food prices in Canada and the United States, food prices are climbing in other parts of the world, specifically Third World countries. By 2030, the price of staples such as corn will nearly double, says the report.

While we have the ability to feed all of humanity, says Oxfam, one in seven people goes hungry today and the world’s poorest people spend up to 80 per cent of their income on food. As I sit here with a full belly, I can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt. Many of us in Canada and the United States have no idea what it’s like to be hungry and not able to afford food. When we’re hungry we go to the fridge or cupboard, swing open the door and come face-to-face with an abundance of food (even though we often still complain that there’s nothing to eat).

As the MFPA AGM demonstrated, Manitoba farmers and food processors continue to produce quality food ingredients and products. We need to find a better way to get this food into the hands of hungry people in our own communities and around the world.

Have you seen the Oxfam report? What do you think?

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