Inequality & the Food System: An Introduction

The access to adequate food to live a healthy life is a universal human right, as declared by the United Nations. When someone does not have adequate access to food they are considered food insecure. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada, after the northern territories and the Yukon. So, why is that? From farm to fork there are many components that make up our food system, allowing or disallowing access to food. And, this is true across the globe. Many see the obvious inequity in the system where in some parts of the world our grocery stores are packed to the brim with food, meanwhile millions go hungry both at home and afar. It is understood that there is enough food being produced in the world to feed everyone, so why do many continue to go hungry?Fredmeyer-1

Many of these issues can be traced back to the corporate monopoly over food, backed by government legislation. There are a handful of corporations that monopolize the agricultural industry from production all the way to retail. They control what is grown, how it’s grown, how and where it is distributed, and what price it is sold at. The impacts of how “agribusiness” can be seen throughout the food system: from farmers to consumers.

Many farmers are left with no choice but to grow food under the terms of these corporations. Whether a farmer is growing food primarily for export, or mass-producing a single crop, many are often left without the means to feed themselves. At the other end of the line, consumers often lack access to healthy or adequate food based on how it is priced or where it is made available.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is really just the tip of a very large iceberg that has been tipping the scales in favour of agribusinesses over people. However, people are starting to push back. Globally, there are movements of people reclaiming the right to grow their own food, and at home as well. Initiatives such as Hope Blooms, the Halifax Seed Library, Common Roots Urban Farm, Spryfield Urban Farm, the Our Food Project, and the many community gardens that are appearing in Halifax and cities everywhere are just one way in which people are reclaiming their right to food.


Alannah Bowes

Volunteer with The Our Food Project and student of International Development at Dalhousie University. 

3 thoughts on “Inequality & the Food System: An Introduction

  1. Good article….not sure if you have seen or heard of it but there is a page on Facebook run by the group Food Sovereignty for All Nova Scotians dedicated to defending Nova Scotians right to choose their food. The group is made up of concerned citizens and business people and was formed after several small abattoirs were forced to stop slaughtering turkeys and the governments blanket support of the Turkey farmer’s of Nova Scotia whose actions are questionable and have had substantial effects on rural communities that has resonated throughout the province. The Minister of Agriculture has come out and threatened the rights of rural Nova Scotians to slaughter turkeys in their own backyard and the Turkey marketing board has used the Natural Products Act which is a very scary document that threatens the very core of Food Security in Nova Scotia. If we as consumers do not push back it will not be very long before we top the list as the highest rate of Food Insecurity in Canada.

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