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Food for Life

Posted on: Saturday, October 6, 2007

Keywords: Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Food Sovereignty, Climate Change

Your Lunch's Link to Climate Change, Biodiversity and Global Justice

This year, the UN Meteorological Organization warned of record-breaking extreme weather on every continent. Around the world, wars are raging over natural resources. While a handful of the world's people continues to get richer, nearly 900 million, most of them women and girls, suffer from hunger and malnutrition - and that number is rising. Meanwhile, as many as 140,000 species are becoming extinct each year - more than at any other time in human history.

Clearly, the world has reached a tipping point in its ability to absorb the harmful impacts of unsustainable resource use, economic greed, and militarism. This planet-wide crisis is the defining issue of our time: never before have we faced a web of problems that threatens the survival of humanity and the life of the planet itself.

But we are also on the verge of another tipping point, as hopeful as the threat is grave.

More and more people are realizing that we cannot continue to live outside the laws of nature and that we have the capability to reinvent our economies and habitats on a sustainable basis and in ways that safeguard human rights. Around the world, strong public consciousness is spreading about the interrelationships between the problems that threaten our communities and the ecosystems on which we depend. Increasingly, people are focused on creating concrete, realizable solutions that are both local and systemic.

MADRE’s new Food for Life campaign is part of this movement to reset the course of the world. We began with a call to improve the US Farm Bill—the multi-billion dollar legislation that will impact health, hunger, poverty, biodiversity, climate change, Indigenous rights, and women’s human rights in the US and around the world. These are some of the core issues of our global crisis, which means they must also be the site of sustainable solutions.

MADRE is crafting these solutions with the women who are on the frontlines of our global crisis. We are developing small-scale, organic family farms to promote food sovereignty in Miskito communities in Nicaragua. We are working with Kuna women in Panama to protect biological and cultural diversity and safeguard the Amazon rainforest. We are making sure that women in Sudan and other places hit hard by climate change have the resources and training they need to protect their families, defend their rights, and rebuild their communities on a stronger foundation.

Food for Life also works in the international human rights arena to make sure that economic and environmental policies recognize that women must be central to any solutions to our global crisis. The words “economy” and “ecology” both come from the Greek word for household—the arena of women’s traditional roles as primary caretakers of families and communities. Even today, in nearly every society, women are mainly responsible for providing families with healthy food, clean water, and—particularly in the Global South—sufficient fuel. These resources depend on the health of the environment, placing women at the heart of economy and ecology the world over.

But the ecosystems that have always provided our food and energy have been exploited to their breaking points. That’s because our global economy is driven by an irrational and amoral economic model (unregulated capitalism) that seeks infinite growth on a finite planet without regard for people’s wellbeing. Global warming, along with the ravages of industrialized agriculture (including hunger, rural poverty, and the destruction of biodiversity) are some of the consequences of this economic system. Ultimately, it’s this economic model, which prioritizes limitless profit-making above all else, that must change if we are to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Food for Life is part of a worldwide effort to turn our global crisis into an opportunity; a chance not to save the world, but to remake it. As we face rising temperatures and declining supplies of cheap energy, change will come of necessity. It’s up to us—working in partnership with women and families around the world—to create a change for the better.

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