lockedfridge.jpg Food security is an issue that many of us might not think of on a regular basis, but it is essential to providing widespread access to healthy food across the country. If you have not heard of it before or you want to know the facts, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to food security.

1. What is food security?

In short, food security means ensuring that everyone can access the amount of healthy, nutritious food they need to live, according to the Food Security Network. However, it also indicates that individuals should be able to economically afford the food necessary to maintain their well-being. Furthermore, those who are responsible for producing food should be able to earn a decent wage while processing, transporting and serving items.

2. What are key factors pertaining to food security?

Food availability, food access and food use are the key factors that apply to food security, according to the World Health Organization. Here is a breakdown of these three factors.

Food availability

This means there is always enough food to go around on a consistent basis.

Food access

In addition to making sure that there is an adequate amount of food, people need to be able to access resources of nutritious food.

Food use

Individuals should be educated on how to maintain basic nutrition through foods, as well as how to handle them (e.g., sanitation).

3. What are the key issues surrounding food security?

At the moment, many experts argue that food availability is a large issue on the planet as a whole. This means that according to our current levels of production, there is not enough food to serve each person. Some believe that although we may have enough food at the moment, we are headed toward a future problem in terms of availability. Others claim that globalization may (or may not) lead to the persistence of food insecurity, especially in rural or impoverished areas.

4. Are there other factors impacting food security?

Yes, there are several factors that may influence food security in a particular region. For example, urban dwellers may be lacking in the area of food use and heavily impacted by availability, according to a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Take this example into account: Individuals living in an urban environment may be more pressured to work longer or commute more to make a living and pay for expenses (e.g., clothing, shelter). As a result, they have less time to prepare food, leading to the consumption of meals outside of the home. This fuels the fast food industry and the growing street food market, which may not be the most nutritious options. Factors ranging from accessibility to price are extremely influential on food security as a whole.

5. What are the consequences of poor food security?

The most obvious health consequence of poor food security is undernutrition. For example, studies have found that health problems can be linked to a limited intake of dietary energy or micronutrients. High levels of undernutrition are extremely common in children and adults in developing countries. For this reason, they remain a primary concern for public health officials. However, developed countries have their fair share of issues as well. For example, 1.7 billion people around the world are considered to be obese or overweight. This comes from a lack of education pertaining to healthy food, as well as poor availability in terms of nutritious food.

6. What are some solutions to food insecurity?

There have been a wide range of solutions proposed to address food insecurity, especially in areas of the world that have high rates of undernutrition. One of the most popular solutions is education. By educating the general public on healthy eating, individuals can shop smarter and ensure they are consuming the foods necessary to maintain their well-being. Messaging is also an answer that some experts provide to the burdening question. Appropriate messaging may be the difference between a child reaching for a candy bar or a fresh-picked apple. However, facilities (e.g., schools, daycares) also need to be mindful of the messaging presented to children. Similarly, businesses need to be conscious of their advertising when it comes to food, whether it’s potato chips or Greek yogurt. Some experts have also proposed more regulation as a solution to widespread food insecurity. For example, adding taxes to unhealthy foods could potentially improve the health of the public as a whole. Notably, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee proposed recommendations in February 2015 to reduce meat consumption and reconsider sustainability, according to Bloomberg. Additionally, scientists came together to propose taxes on sugary sodas and snacks to cut down on obesity rates across the country. Although these proposals are still on the table, researchers are quickly joining forces to tackle these common food security issues.

7. What can I do about food security?

Believe it or not, there are some initiatives you can launch at home to help with good security. Educating yourself on nutritious foods is one step you can take to ensure you’re maintaining your well-being. Furthermore, you can also help by reducing food waste. Globally, up to 50 percent of food production goes to waste due to poor preparation or storage, according to a report published in Science magazine. Finally, think about growing your own food. Creating a garden is one way you can make sure your family always has an ample supply of fruits and vegetables. Using the right fertilizer for your soil can also boost your yield without requiring the use of more space. Although food security remains a prominent global issue, many experts are coming together to brainstorm solutions to this dire problem. As they do so, we are more likely to see the benefits of nutritious, less-processed foods in the future. Whether you live in a developed city or a food desert, educating yourself on healthy eating is one step toward a brighter, nutritious future.