Relationship between food security and climate change is reciprocal
Nations in 2008) reminds and cautions us, “[c]limate change will affect food security through its impacts on all components of global, national and local food systems.”
Generally, food security is comprised of four components – food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food system stability. Elements of these components edge their way into our lives, no matter where we call home. Nonetheless, the relationship between food security and climate change is reciprocal – it goes both ways. So, while our food security may be affected by climate change, in turn, climate change can be reduced by such things as the gardens we tend.
Food availability refers to the quantity of food that can exist or is produced. It can be impacted by changes in growing conditions such as water availability or temperature changes that affect crop production. In response, community gardens make food available locally, thus, factors such as the transportation of food and the attendant fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change are reduced. Food accessibility indicates the right to nutritious food, a component related to legal, economic, political and social factors.
Although food may be inaccessible due to social factors such as its affordability, community gardens can offer access to nutritious foods, regardless of social or other factors. As well, community gardens limit the demand for food from regions or countries whose ability to produce that food has been impeded due climate changes. Hence, there is more food accessible for those regions or countries to re-allocate the food for domestic use. Food utilization applies to our ability to use the nutrients in various food items, reflecting the nutritional, social and cultural values and safety of the food. Similar to food accessibility, if the cost of food rises as a result of a reduction in its quantity due to climate change, social issues such as poverty can prevent us from utilizing nutritional food – that food is beyond our financial means.
Less fossil fuels
However, community gardens can provide food and nutrients that our bodies can utilize. Furthermore, by simply diverting our vegetable “waste” into the compost used for our gardens, less fossil fuels are emitted by the trucks that transport that “waste” to landfills. Finally, food stability points to the need for a stable and constant supply of nutritional food. If climate change affects the availability of food, through diminishing production or processing, we are no longer able to access a stable source or supply of food items. With a community garden, this effect is lessened as the fruits and vegetables of a community garden provide a stable source and supply of food. Likewise, our actions again reduce the need for long distance transportation and the accompanying addition of fossil fuel emissions to the atmosphere.
Of course, work is ongoing to study and understand the changes that accompany climate change and the impact on other aspects of communities. For instance, in Placentia, a rise in sea level and the effect on various structures is currently being studied (see “Water Resources Public Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment for Placentia, Newfoundland”). At the same time, those seemingly small and local actions such as our gardens – personal or community ones – make a difference that can be felt the world-over. We too, can tend to change.