Anna had a chance to be on the mainstage at Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) annual conference in San Francisco last week and offered this message:
As many have been saying for a long time (ah-hem, my mother), the biggest crisis in our food system isn’t a scarcity of food, it’s a scarcity of democracy. The world is producing 2,900 calories for every man, woman, and child on the planet—more than enough—and yet one in three children is malnourished. One in three! And most of those children are malnourished not because they don’t have enough calories, but because they’re consuming too many of the wrong calories. Consider that 62 percent of teenagers in high-income countries drink one sugary drink a day or that only 42 percent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed. Being clear on root causes is how we get clear on solutions.
If the problem is not productivity, but rather democracy, then the solutions will clearly not be found in technological solutions, but in policy ones. We need to be asking: Who is calling the shots about what foods are regulated and what foods are taxed? Who has a say over what farming practices are incentivized and what agricultural research is funded? Who’s deciding the role food companies can play in our lives, from what marketing to kids is allowed to who sits at the table at governing bodies like the World Health Organization?
To make real, transformative change in the food system, more of us—regular people and communities, not corporations—need to be asking those questions (and answering them). To fix our food, in other words, we need to fix our democracy.
Header photo: Future of Food panel at SOCAP 2019. Pictured (L-R): Roy Steiner, Rockefeller Foundation; Anna Lappé, Real Food Media; and Deb Eschmeyer, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. Photo by SOCAP.