What is Food Security and Insecurity?
In Canada, it’s common to find a grocery store, convenience store, or even a farmers’ market in your area. How often have you visited, pushed a cart around, and seen the variety of available food on the shelves? Maybe you’ve selected the best fruits and vegetables from the stacks or picked your favourite meat and dairy products from the refrigerated displays. But have you ever stopped to think about how it got there?
Food goes through a cycle from production to waste management, and every step along the way we must be thinking of ways to ensure that food is available, accessible, affordable, nutritious, and stable for all people. When these five basic elements are not met, food insecurity can occur. In Canada, one in eight households and one in six children were food insecure between 2017 and 2018.1 Globally, the situation is even more critical, with nearly 690 million people who are hungry and 750 million who are exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.2 Achieving the five elements of food security, in all stages of the food cycle, is vital to the goal of eliminating hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
Food insecurity occurs when the five basic elements are not met and food is not available, accessible, affordable, nutritious, or stable. There are three different types of food insecurity: transitory, seasonal, and chronic. Each of these types can range in severity from uncomfortable hunger to serious malnutrition. Transitory food insecurity strikes when short-term, unexpected circumstances prevent the five basic elements from being met. These circumstances can include sudden increases in food prices or sudden decreases in wages. Seasonal food insecurity occurs when there are annual, predictable causes (such as weather) and chronic food insecurity appears when minimum food requirements cannot be met for an extended period of time. While economic challenges are often to blame for instances of food insecurity, there are many root causes to financial crises, both environmental and social, that affect food security.
Learn more in our September Issue of Nourishing Minds: