Food Security An Important Issue For Rural Health

To many people, health is largely a matter of perspective. In the main, we subscribe to a working definition that includes feeling physically good, able to act and react according to some semblance of a reasonable self image, remaining fit in a passable manner, and weighing in at something near the insurance industry’s norms.

Food security is another matter: some people describe food security as little more than being assured of the next meal, whereas others are unsatisfied with anything less than pantries full of canned and dried goods and well-stocked freezers. Members of disciplines as disparate as nutrition, planning and development, medicine, social justice law, and the armed services have considered the meaning and uses of the term with a view to overcoming the implied warning in its terminology.

Both health and food security are fraught with expectations at social, academic, and governmental/regulatory levels. Both are states of mind as well as physical conditions. Absent either, the human organism eventually dies. In short, health and food security are necessary to life—all life, and in the case of the present examination of the terms, most pointedly to human life. Health and food security are worth consideration because they are basic to life and because they have at all times in specific contexts existed in some imbalance. In general, when it comes to health and food security we expect much and plan all too little.
Food security versus food insecurity.

Depending on the audience, experts have defined food security in formal and informal ways. In 1996, participants at the World Summit identified the presence of food security as in effect “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. Participants also emphasized the combined requirements of being able to find and afford both nutritious food and food that meets an individual’s preferences. According to the Bureau of Public Affairs, it is thought across the globe that, quite simply, people are food secure when they can find and pay for food. Under this rubric, families are food secure when the members neither experience hunger nor fear starvation. Furthermore, people with ethnic traditions and socio-religious mandates require that food be culturally appropriate. Many will refuse foods—even when hungry, even when in the midst of a food shortage—that fail to meet their expectations. At least one local source, the Community Food Security Coalition, maintains that “community food security is a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.

Regarding the relationship between health status and food security, it may be sufficient to define good health as the ability to withstand the effects of exposure to illness and injury. The connection between nutritious food and health status is, from this perspective, fundamental, whether or not innate. Leaving aside the question of how to educate people to make healthy and nutritious choices, assuring access and affordability becomes a matter of public policy and the generous application of social support.

Also worth noting is the counter-intuitive notion of wide-spread hunger and food insecurity in the presence of abundance. Inequalities in distribution combined with general and pervasive poverty and a lack of knowledge about food preferences and prohibitions can result in food insecurity so endemic that neither individuals nor communities can overcome barriers to supply and access adequate to mitigate the problem.

In the past couple of decades, the terms and circumstances of food insecurity have been the subjects of increasing scrutiny. Citing 1990 research findings, the USDA describes food insecurity as “. . . limited or uncertain availability of adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. What is more, the conditions associated with food insecurity are just those that we expect will result from declines in the availability of energy and the subsequent threats to the status of human health.

By – Student – Aakib Yousuf Wagay
Department of B.sc. Hotriculture II Sem
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital

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