Do you have enough food? What does having enough food actually mean?
There are several answers to these questions, and it all boils down to having a secure food supply. It means being able to buy sufficient food if you have the means to buy them. And that’s not all, it has to be food with sufficient or adequate nutrients needed by the body.
These are some of the complex descriptions when talking about food security. Food security means people do not experience hunger and lack of nutrition.
Remember ancient Egypt? Back then, the pharaoh orders grain harvests to be kept in large storage and opened when food becomes scarce. Modern times have made storing food easier and longer. Nations with adequate food supply do not have to worry about their citizens going hungry. This is what food security is all about.
Food Security Defined
The World Food Summit of 1996 has given a complete and precise definition of what food security means, to wit:
Food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Based on this, it is clear that food security is not just having enough food; the food should also be nutritious.
A household is said to have food security when all the family members are able to eat sufficiently in order to keep themselves physically fit.
Food security is also defined by food utilization, stability, access, and availability. Food is properly utilized when it meets the nutritional requirement of the body; Food is stable when people are able to obtain it as time passes; Food is accessible when there is enough supply that can be bought at a reasonable price; and, food is available when its production and distribution is sufficient.
Food security also means having enough food supply for years to come despite unforeseeable circumstances like damage to crops due to bad weather, problems with distribution, economic or financial instability, etc.
Status of Food Security in the World
While some countries are secure with their food supply, others are not as lucky.
Statistics for the years 2011 to 2013 indicate that around 842 million people suffered from chronic hunger. Chronic hunger is defined as a persistent lack of food to eat, and the inability to eat nutrient-rich food. Most often, it is the inability to buy food for one’s daily consumption.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization also reported that in 2018, there were about 700 million people (or more than nine percent of the world’s population) who suffered from hunger and severe lack of food.
Food Security Versus Food Safety
As previously defined, ‘Food Security’ refers to the sufficiency of food supply that is adequate in nutrients needed by the body.
This should not be confused with ‘Food Safety’ which refers to the way food is prepared, handled, and stored to prevent spoilage that could cause food-borne diseases.