What is food security?
Essentially, food security can be described as a phenomenon relating to individuals. It is the nutritional status of the individual household member that is the ultimate focus, and the risk of that adequate status not being achieved or becoming undermined. The latter risk describes the vulnerability of individuals in this context. As the definitions reviewed above imply, vulnerability may occur both as a chronic and transitory phenomenon. Useful working definitions are described below.
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern.
Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 presents new estimates of the number and proportion of undernourished people going back to 1990, defined in terms of the distribution of dietary energy supply. With almost 870 million people chronically undernourished in 2010-12, the number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high.
Key questions for this area
If you are teaching or studying in the area of food security, or are looking to add content to your unit, following are some key questions you should be familiar with and/or consider:
- Why does food insecurity exist?
- How do disasters and conflicts play a role in food security?
- What effect does population and urbanisation have on food security?
- What impact does poverty have?
- What is the effect of food insecurity on health?
- What role does water and the environment play in food security?
- Is there fair distribution of resources?
- Does food aid play a role in delivering food security?
If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.