What is the Future of Food? The Two Stories that Need to be Told

To celebrate World Food Day, we chatted to TEAR Australia about the implication between climate change and secure, reliable food and the role Christians have to play in God’s story of renewing the earth.

What is the purpose of The Future of Food Report?

TEAR has produced The Future of Food Report as part of our work on the global Renew Our World campaign. The purpose of the Report is essentially to tell two important stories:

The first story is that of climate change and how it affects people in the poorest parts of our world when it comes to secure, reliable access to food. For too many people, getting enough food still remains a constant challenge and one that is only made worse by the altered weather patterns and increasingly frequent natural disasters associated with climate change.

But there is a second story and it is a story of hope and renewal: the story of God’s faithfulness to restore all things and the role we have, as stewards of God’s creation, to play a part in transforming our food system so that it is more productive, just and sustainable into the future.

TEAR’s hope is that The Future of Food Report will help Christians in Australia to understand their place in these two stories and be empowered to respond in ways that are meaningful and have impact.

What is the number one thing you would want people to understand about the link between food, hunger and climate change?

The number one thing we want people to understand is simply this: we can’t end hunger if we don’t tackle climate change.

Between 1990 and 2015, our global community achieved something extraordinary: we cut the prevalence of hunger in developing regions by nearly half. Amongst our next set of global development goals, we now have a target to end hunger entirely by 2030.

Climate change is not only undermining our efforts to reach this next goal, it threatens to undo much of what we have already achieved.

Secure, reliable access to food is one of the basic building blocks that makes it possible for people to lift themselves out of poverty. That’s why community development projects related to food are among the most common activities supported by TEAR.

Many of our development partners work with people who have long-relied on agriculture and food production for their livelihood. People like Sitabi, a farmer from Nepal, whose experience of increasingly frequent and unpredictable weather events has made the already challenging task of providing for her family even tougher.

We’ve seen with the release of the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that our world’s leading climate scientists agree urgent action to address climate change is needed. Our failure to act will increase the risk of poverty for millions more people and could put our goal to end hunger out of reach.

What has been the reaction so far to The Future of Food Report?

The reaction so far to The Future of Food Report has been a great encouragement.

We’ve been so inspired by the many Christians around Australia who have shared with us why they care deeply about stewarding God’s creation, consuming food more sustainably and speaking up for those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. People like Sherry Maddock, who tells of ‘giving her kitchen table over to God’ and Tanya Fenwick whose journey with faith and food has helped her to experience a greater connection with God and others.

There are plenty more stories. For some it is a well-travelled road but for others it is an exciting first step into a new season: exploring the connections between food, hunger and climate change and what it means to live out the values of their faith in response to big global issues of justice.

What is our responsibility as Christians when it comes to sustainable food? And how might we need to change our mindset to this topic?

At TEAR we believe that Jesus’ command to love God and love our neighbour is meant to infuse and shape every aspect of our lives – even the seemingly mundane details such as how we go about getting breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table. As Paul writes in Romans, we are to take our every day, ordinary life – our sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”

Our food system is amongst the most significant contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and big changes are needed – from farm to fork – to ensure it is sustainable into the future.

Such a complex challenge might make us feel as though any individual action we take is so insignificant that it’s not worth the bother. But what feels like a drop in the ocean is in fact part of the changing tide.

We can be more mindful, as consumers of food, about the impact our food choices on people around the world and creation itself and we can raise our voices to speak out on behalf of people around the world for whom hunger is a daily struggle.

How can people support the ‘Renew Our World campaign?

To join and support the Renew Our World campaign, people can sign up at www.renewourworld.org.au and receive all the latest campaign news and resources.

To dive deeper and take action on the issues of food, hunger and climate change, people can:

  • Read The Future of Food Report to learn more about the issues and the part we all play.
  • Take steps to consume food more sustainably. An easy place to start is to cut down your food waste. If it were ranked with countries, food waste would sit just behind the US and China as the world’s third largest emitter of climate-altering greenhouse gases. Australian households currently throw away over 3 million tonnes of edible food every year. We can do better! Plan your meals, use a shopping list, make the most of your leftovers, get a compost bin – these a simple, practical things anyone can do and yet they have a big impact.
  • Take part in TEAR’s Future of Food picture petition. You can amplify the impact of your own lifestyle changes by telling our political leaders you care about ending hunger and asking them to do more to help people in the world’s poorest communities respond to the challenges of climate change.

Emma Wyndham Chalmers works for TEAR Australia in the Advocacy team.