It’s World Food Day

It’s World Food Day.

I was supposed to have this post written days ago, but until today I hadn’t been able to come up with (what I think are) the right words.

There’s so much finger pointing when we talk about social justice issues and I don’t want to do that. So today I’m just going to tell you my story.

Women Deliver 2019

June 4, 2019, Vancouver, BC. I’m attending Women Deliver (WD), the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women. Melinda Gates is here. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is here, as are 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists from more than 150 countries. The atmosphere is electric.

I am on stage with global food experts as part of a panel called “Foodies That Give a Fork”. The event is in partnership with the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, World Vision, Scaling Up Nutrition, Results Canada, Nutrition International, and the SDG2 Advocacy Hub. (SDGs are the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – there are 17 of them.)

The goal of the event is to raise awareness about the importance of bringing unusual actors – culinary leaders, youth voices, etc – into SDG2 and SDG3 advocacy as key stakeholders in nutrition and gender equality progress (number 2 is for the goal of Zero Hunger, and number 3 is for the goal of Good Health and Well Being).

My fellow panelists are INcredible. I’m feeling hugely inadequate. But the theme of the WD conference is Power, so I dig deep and find my power.

I speak up and ask chefs to help us pitch better nutrition for everyone. After all, chefs hold tremendous sway as influencers for better nutrition. They are at the heart of the food system – bridging that gap between farm and fork. They have the power to create a new global conversation about food and translate the SDG’s into everyday actions.

And this absolutely goes beyond chefs to include anyone who works in food: food bloggers, cookbook authors, food columnists, food educators…. These people – myself included – influence what we put in our grocery carts, on our meal plans, in our kids’ lunch boxes. They shape how we think and talk about food and food waste.

It’s not lost on me that I am also holding myself accountable.

After the panel, I follow the nutrition track of the conference from room to room. I find myself fielding every emotion, weeping over stories of those suffering on the margins, and moments later, standing to cheer for those who were lifted up out of adversity.

Know Your Heart

I chose not to write immediately about Women Deliver; for months afterward I was still processing everything I learned and was feeling. But one doesn’t attend a conference like that and walk away without aspiring to make an impact. So I wrote myself a personal list of actions and began working through them one by one.

For a while I wrestled with where I fit in the battle against world hunger…wondering where my voice could be put to the best use to help the UN reach the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.

Since June, I have made peace with the fact that I may not know the first thing about foreign policies or NGOs, but I know my own heart and it is all for feeding the hungry, both at home and afar.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling

The first step towards advocacy is gathering and understanding the facts. The next step is sharing those facts and urging others to take action.

  • Fact: 1 in 5 children are hungry in Nova Scotia. (Source: 2017 CCPA report findings)
  • Fact: Globally, 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry each night. (Source: World Food Programme)

The facts are out there. 11 Facts About World Hunger via DoSomething.org

Taking Action

Today, World Food Day, October 16, 2019, I am committing myself to the fight against global hunger.

I want to create a bridge and march across from my kitchen to communities both locally and around the world.

Concretely, for me, this may look like cooking a hot meal at a local community centre or joining once again with the powerful voices of WHO, WFP and World Vision.

It might be tackling the issue of food waste on this blog platform or hosting an event for The Big Social and supporting Community Food Centres Canada.

Engaging with my community has also been working with schools and teachers to teach kids about nutritious food, volunteering for the breakfast program at my children’s school, and hosting a group of women to talk about hospitality.

You don’t have to look very far to find a way to help.

Empowerment at Home

As parents, we have a duty to show our kids that our actions, however small, can make an impact; that together, we can make a difference in the lives of women and children at home and around the world.

Empowerment takes on many shapes in my life, but one that I am most proud of is equipping my kids with cooking skills. Recipe-by-recipe, my children are becoming self-reliant in the kitchen and this empowerment will last a lifetime.

I get so excited when Clara (now 7 ½) tells me about her dreams, and her activities in school and around our community.  She wants to be a cook and an engineer, and she’s quickly becoming a powerful little advocate in the fight against world hunger.

I feel so fortunate that we have access to healthy foods to help fuel Clara’s dreams. Today, on World Food Day and every day, I wish the same for mothers and children around the world.

When she and I are cooking, the time is ripe to talk about global food insecurities. We talk a lot about how precious it is to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, clean water and pantry staples

When I tell her about how initiatives like World Vision Canada help to support women and girls’ health and nutrition around the world, I feel so proud. As a female entrepreneur, cook, and mother of three, I know that these types of initiatives are making a difference to those in the margins.

A Zero-Waste Thanksgiving || Simple Bites

What else? Act. Influence. Advocate.

One woman, based out of a Canadian kitchen, is not exactly a world-changing platform but I have a voice and I am using my power to create conversations around food every single day.

Here are several global food topics that I discuss, promote and advocate:

  • Promote better nutrition for all;
  • Encourage others to “eat the rainbow” and to put sustainable foods such as beans and pulses in the centre of dishes;
  • Introduce others to The Planetary Health Diet from EAT Foundation;
  • Inform of the alarming numbers related to food waste;
  • Raise awareness about food issues, both in community and globally;
  • Champion local and seasonal food;
  • Promote kitchen gardens and urban farming;
  • Encourage people to grow their own food – even scraps;
  • Advocate for governments to act on global nutrition commitments;
  • Advocate for protection of soil health through practices such as low-till agriculture and intercropping;
  • Make a case for food affordability as an election issue.

Looking Ahead on World Food Day

The challenge of overcoming world hunger and achieving SDG2 by 2030 can seem difficult, yet there is so much hope for the future and I choose to focus on the positive. As Peale said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”.

Hunger is one of our most solvable challenges, and helping to create a food-secure community begins with recognizing one thing: we all have a role to play.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. This is so inspiring, Aimee! I can’t wait to hear more as you continue (I’ve noticed you doing all these things already here on the blog) with your goals. I have really enjoyed the beans + lentils recipes you’ve done as I also eat a lot of those (simply because one can only eat + afford so much meat, esp. with tweens who eat a ton).

    Sort of “same, same, but different”…have you seen the documentary Biggest Little Farm? It’s an incredible story about biodynamic farming: working together with nature to enhance the farm’s ability to self-sustain and have an excellent crop. My family and I loved it so much we’ve watched it twice. It even made me a bit teary with how beautiful this vision is, enhancing habitat for disappearing species, but also using *every last bit* of the land and animal waste to enrich the crops.

  2. Ian Brisbin says

    Beautiful, Aimee, particularly given the intentionality of posting this so long after the event that prompted it.

    So much of what I try to live, impart and teach in my own small way, is based upon the basic consciousness of what I eat, prepare and share. Simply stated: *think* about what I put in my own mouth, and what I serve to others, and everything else flows from that.

    I certainly can’t claim to do so perfectly, or even well, but the incremental change that you describe has me striving, as with everything else, to just be a bit better.

    Thanks for your thoughtful blog post. You do make a huge difference, at least with what I do as you know, but a lot more broadly than you can probably contemplate. I also had a whole cauliflower planned for next week, so ZOINK, stolen!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thank you for reading, and for your kind words, Ian. I really appreciate the support, especially in this corner of the Internet where most are just showing up for a cake recipe or canning tutorial.

      I think you are doing an incredible job in the way you are living with purpose. It’s inspiring!

  3. Terrie Vorsteher says

    Very well done, Aimee! Bravo! Keep marching across that bridge!, I thank God He has given you a voice! What a gift, what a good steward, and what a beautiful heart as you minister of Life!
    Much love,
    Terrie

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