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It is possible to help others by changing way we eat

Jan Hearne • Jul 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Oxfam International, a confederation of 17 organizations dedicated to alleviating poverty and hunger around the world has come out with the results of its latest study. The bottom line: Eight out of 10 women in the United States are willing to make changes in the way they feed their families to make sure people everywhere have enough to eat.

According to Oxfam, our “broken” food system leaves one in seven people hungry every day. I, like the women surveyed, would like to help, but haven’t had the information I needed. Oxfam is willing to oblige.

Oxfam’s GROW campaign is launching a new Facebook app and Pinterest cookbook to promote its GROW Method of five steps for mothers, and everyone else, to feed their families in ways that ensure everyone has enough to eat. The steps are:

1. Eat less meat: Access to water is essential to food security and more than 1.6 billion people live in areas facing water scarcity. Meat production soaks up 8 percent of the world’s water supply.

If American moms were to feed their families lentils or other beans instead of beef once per week they would save 6,000 liters of water each meal.

That’s the equivalent of 17 bathtubs of fresh water filled to the brim and then some every week, or 12-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools per family over the course of one year.

2. Reduce food waste: About a third of all food produced for people’s plates goes to waste. In the six countries surveyed one in six apples ends up in the garbage — that’s 5.3 billion apples every year. Lined up side by side those apples would stretch more than nine times around the Earth.

The greenhouse gases produced in the growth, trade and decomposition of these apples is equivalent to the burning of 10 million barrels of oil every day, more than the United States imports.

Only buying the apples we need and storing them in the refrigerator would help cut down on this waste.

3. Support small-scale and sustainable food producers: If consumers in Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain ensure two of the chocolate bars they buy each month are Fair Trade, it would add up to more than 12.5 billion chocolate bars a year — this action alone could help transform the lives of people who live and work on 90,000 small scale cocoa farms across the globe.

4. Cook smarter: Simple changes in how we prepare food such as putting a lid on a pan when cooking, using the right amount of water to cook vegetables and reducing the heat as soon as water starts to boil can cut the amount of energy we use in cooking by up to 70 percent and to help prevent climate impacts from hurting poor farmers.

If women in the six surveyed countries took simple steps like this it would be the equivalent of planting 540 million trees seedlings and letting them grow for a decade.

5. Buy seasonal: A lot of energy is wasted growing food in the wrong place at the wrong time of year.

We can save enormous amounts of energy and cut greenhouse emissions just by eating more of what’s in season near us.

It is possible to change the world one meal at a time. We can do this.

Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at jhearne@johnsoncitypress.com.

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