October 16, 2023
Each year, Presbyterian congregations join with partners around the country (and globe) to lift up World Food Day (Oct. 16) during the Food Week of Action – from the Sunday before World Food Day until the Sunday after. The week also includes the International Day of Rural Women (Oct. 15) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17).
During Food Week, especially, we commit to act. We commit to work for transformational policies, at the local, state and national levels, and to spend our dollars on food produced and brought to us in ways that promote a sustainable, just and equitable food system.
The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind.”
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2 liters of water are generally needed daily for drinking, but it takes about 3,000 liters (about 793 gallons) to produce a person’s daily food needs.[i]
It takes a lot of water to produce food! For example, it takes 1 gallon of water to produce just one leaf of lettuce and 104 gallons of water to produce one-fifth of a pound of turkey.[ii]
Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals and remains a major source of water pollution.[iii] Industrial agriculture in particular uses chemical pesticides and fertilizers that can run off in strong rains and contaminate fresh water sources.
Transnational large-scale land investments in agriculture often lead to large-scale water use to produce cash crops for export. These land grabs can have major negative impacts on the water and food security of local communities.
Global consumption of minerals, metals and fossil fuels is also an important driver of land and water grabbing which impacts the abilities of local communities to feed themselves. The extractive industries are often water intensive in production and generate toxic heavy metal wastes that contaminate the air, soil and water.
Climate change has changed weather patterns and many folks are having to deal with alternating seasons of drought and flooding which makes farming very difficult; farmers incur great crop losses from year to year.
Large-scale hydroelectric dams cause the forced displacement and relocation of populations within the vicinity of the reservoir, create downstream agricultural production changes, and destroy livelihoods and culture.
Large-scale tourism projects grab coastal lands for the development of hotels and resorts and cause the displacement of fisherfolk, cutting them off from the waters necessary for their livelihoods.
Around 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water infrastructure.[iv] In the U.S., Navajo residents are 67 times more likely than other Americans to live without access to running water and 75% of people living on Hopi land are drinking contaminated water.[v]
Water is life, water is food. But so many continue to be left behind. So many are left thirsty and hungry.
We must ask ourselves, what choices are we making daily that are leaving folks behind?
Eileen Schuhmann, Associate for Global Engagement and Resources, Presbyterian Hunger Program
Today’s Focus: World Food Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
René Myers, Director, Ministry Engagement Advisor Lead, Ministry Engagement & Support, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Dawn Nashid, Administrative Assistant II, Faith Based Investing & Corporate Engagement
Let us pray
Gracious God, you know the enormous challenges that we face on this earth. And you know that many of these challenges have been caused by our own wrong thinking and actions. Please help us to see another way. We pray that you give us right vision and lead us towards just action. Amen.
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