World Food Day: How Your Dinner Choices Can Help Fight Hunger

Grow Oxfam AmericaTomorrow, October 16th, is World Food Day. Hosted by Oxfam America, the goal is to foster conversations about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and how you can take personal actions that will make the food system more just and sustainable.

What I’ve learned from Oxfam America is that there are nearly a billion people going hungry in the world. Yet, food still rots in landfills each day. Farmers are struggling to keep up with demand and/or afford the expensive tools they need to maintain their farms.

We waste energy when we cook without even realizing it. We buy food from far away when we could buy local, a simple task that lessens greenhouse gas emissions and supports local farmers.

Oh, and did you know that livestock is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions? That’s some powerful gas!

These are all things that, in the course of a day, we just don’t think about. However, as a whole, the decisions we make when we shop and cook make a huge difference.

My husband and I try to do our part to be less wasteful overall. But, we could definitely do better.

Here are some questions to ask when you’re around the dinner table:

  • How much food do you end up throwing away each week?
  • Could you make tomorrow’s meal from today’s leftovers?
  • How much of your food was grown in the US?
  • Can you support local farmers in your area?
  • How much water and energy do you use when you cook (think boiling water, washing dishes, cleaning produce, electricity from appliances, etc.)?
  • Do you grow any food yourself?
  • Is the food you’re eating right now in season?
  • Could your family eat a little less meat and dairy?

And here are a few tips to help you make better choices at the grocery store or in the kitchen:

  • Keep your fruits and vegetables in the fridge instead of the counter so they last longer.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and only buy what you need.
  • Shop at your local farmer’s market. (And, yes, you can still do this in the winter. Here in Brunswick, Maine, we have an indoor farmer’s market during the winter.)
  • Unplug kitchen appliances when not in use.
  • See if you can find how your food is grown, where it comes from, and how it’s transported.
  • Plant your own fruits and vegetables.
  • Try making a vegetarian meal once per week.
  • Use nondairy options instead of a dairy product.

By the way, I’m getting all this information from Oxfam’s GROW Method, which offers 5 easy ways for people who care about hunger to help. Definitely worth a look. I mean, how easy are these tips? We just have to think a bit more about our actions. That’s it.

Finally, here are a few easy ways to get involved on World Food Day:

  • Sign up to host a World Food Day dinner discussion. Oxfam has tons of free materials including a discussion guide, placemats, and recipe ideas from acclaimed chefs Jamie Oliver, Mary Sue Milliken, and others.
  • Share GROW method recipes on Pinterest and Oxfam will add them to their GROW Method Cook Book on Pinterest. Just tag your pin #GROWmethod to add it.
  • Snap photos of your World Food Day meal on Instagram and tag them with #WFD2012, then check out our their website to see photos from all over the world.

Do you have any tips to add to this list? How are you working on making better choices in the kitchen or grocery store?

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls.

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  1. says

    Love this post. Thanks so much jennifer, for informing me and motivating me to look a little closer at our world we live in and how we live in it. You got me thinking… which I’m sure is your goal! Yes, we need to do all those things. I am feeling a much stronger pull these days to shop local and I am feeling a new urgency to make some changes, like never before. I hate waste. I also hate starvation. Just kills me that there are so many suffering, and our landfills could feed nations. Ugh. Thanks for the inspiration to do something about it!!
    Chris Carter recently posted..Extraordinary Mom…My Profile

  2. says

    As I have stated before, I love your involvement with causes such as this one.
    I am a lifelong vegetarian (but I’ve always said that my “gateway” meat would be bacon – so we have THAT in common!) But of course there is much more I could be doing than not eat meat to make this planet more sustainable for crop abundance. Thank you for giving me some great ideas.
    ilene recently posted..The Big Greasy DinnerMy Profile

  3. says

    Great tips. I especially am trying to eat more vegetarian meals every week. I only buy organic grass fed meat for my house and appreciate that very much, but I figure my diet is probably not very balanced if I’m eating meat every single day!

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