Everywhere around us there are ever growing global economic, political and environmental crises, which are pushing our planetary boundaries. One of the best examples of how these crises are reflected in our daily lives is through our global food system; which is unsustainable, unfair and inadequate to fulfil the basic needs of food and nutrition security. The right to food is enshrined in international law and as such a legal obligation of all states to fulfil. Within this framework, 2015 is a milestone year, established back in 2013 by the European Commission as the European Year for Development, which not only marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but also the start of the Post-2015 era which has stronger focus on sustainable development. This decision reflects in great extent the EU citizen’s responses as seen in the EU Barometer (2013).
Given the significance of the year, it is time that we, all citizens, and especially young people take a more active role in protecting our world, for us but more importantly for the generations to come. This is not as complicated as it may sound! Simple individual or collective actions can have a great impact in our life but also the lives of so many others across the globe. Making informed choices about the food products we are purchasing and consuming, we can have a positive impact on the current global food system and the issues surrounding it.
Have we ever considered who works at the coco plantations and under what conditions, so that we can enjoy a chocolate bar? Have we thought about the process that it takes for vegetables to reach our table? How far did they travel? What chemicals were used during the cultivation period? Or maybe how many tons of food goes to waste, when other people live in extreme poverty?
Maybe this is not information that is easy to find, but it is our common duty as citizens of this world to acknowledge the fact that our world is highly interconnected, and realize that our actions and beliefs, whether conscious or unconscious, are no-longer limited to affecting only our personal or local environment; rather they have a collective impact on all lives across the globe.
Through Map Your Meal, a 3-year EU funded project, we aim at addressing the ever-increasing global challenges and interdependencies around the global food system holistically, and citizens’ active engagement is vital. Tracing the origins of our food, recognizing the issues around the production and consumption patterns, reflecting on our own role within a global society, making more informed and sustainable choices and demanding more accountability on a societal and policy level when it comes to food production, and consumption patterns; we can add a small but substantial milestone towards the overall improvement and sustainability of the food system, but more importantly to the wellbeing of our planet, and that of our own.