Hearing about people without enough food has always been sad for me, but since I’ve had children, it’s become almost unbearable to hear about people who aren’t able to provide their children with adequate nutrition. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for a mother or father. But the fact is that nearly a billion people suffer from hunger each day. That’s a lot of people and the task of making a dent in that number is so large that it can seem too daunting to even make a start. That’s why I was heartened when I learned about Oxfam’s new GROW campaign, which provides 5 concrete steps that any family can take to help build a food system capable of feeding the world’s population in a sound and sustainable way.
The five steps in the GROW program are:
1. Eat less meat 1 of 5One of the main issues facing as many as 1.6 billion people is lack of access or unstable access to clean drinking water. Because raising meat is so water intensive, cutting back, even just one day a week can greatly reduce the amount of water a family is responsible for using. According to Oxfam, having beans instead of meat for one night would save 17 full Olympic swimming pools worth of water per family over the course of a year.
Get 15 great bean recipes to take the place of meat here!
2. Reduce food waste 2 of 5Much of the food in our food supply ends up in the trash. What is being wasted apart from the food itself is the energy that went into producing it, much of it derived from fossil fuels, which both makes energy more expensive and contributes to global climate change, which in turn make it more difficult for farmers in developing nations. Being frugal by planning your meals and buying only what you need are time-tested ways for reducing waste. You'll be helping others but it will also save you money in the process.
3. Buy fair trade 3 of 5Products like chocolate and coffee can come from farms that treat their workers pretty appallingly, especially chocolate which makes frequent use of slave labor. Making an effort to buy products like these fair trade, even if it's just some of the time, would go a long way toward building an agricultural sector in parts of the developing world that would allow farmers to lift themselves out of poverty.
Learn more about the benefits of fair trade chocolate here.
4. Cook smarter 4 of 5A lot of the waste in our food supply comes from how we prepare food, but there are simple ways to to cook more efficiently, like using lids on pots and pans when cooking (this will also help you cook more quickly), not using more water than you need to boil pasta or veggies, and reducing the heat as soon as water begins to boil. You'll waste less energy and water and help the planet at the same time.
5. Buy seasonal 5 of 5Growing fruit and vegetables at the wrong time and the wrong place requires a lot of additional energy. Focusing on using seasonal ingredients will ensure that your food is not too energy-intensive, freeing up valuable resources. And besides, in many cases you'll find that seasonal stuff just tastes better. There's nothing more disappointing than corn and tomatoes in the middle of winter.
Read about great seasonal cookbooks here.
Much of the GROW campaign focuses on being thrifty and frugal as consumers and cooks. These are values that a lot of us grew up with but that are easy to drift away from. But they’re also values that are great for your family’s financial well-being. Now, thanks to the GROW program, you’ll know that you’re also helping the planet and its residents.
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