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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. 

About Ecology Action Centre

This is a blog from the Food Action Committee of the Ecology Action Centre, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Join us as we document our experiments with sauerkraut, push for urban chickens, make giant batches of jam, and plant some seeds (both literally and figuratively). For more about what the Food Action Committee is working on, visit our website.


The views and opinions expressed in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of haligonia.ca.


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