Coronavirus: The Importance of food security

The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the globe. This once in a lifetime disaster has claimed over 100,000 lives globally and continues to do so. Most international crises do not directly lead to job losses, death, economic insecurity or food insecurity. However, this pandemic has trigged all three.

Food security, or insecurity is largely a problem of the developing world. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) defines food security as “existing when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2020).

To put this into context in the developed world, people do not have to grow their own food for survival, or additional sustenance, however, in the developing world this is more common. Smallholders are dependent on their land, and in many cases are not fortunate to have access to supermarkets as those in the developed world do. This month bare shelves brought the long neglected issue of food insecurity to the unaware rich world.

Panic Buying

As grocery items on shelves disappeared, panic further increased. Shelves in supermarkets that were stripped bare of hand sanitiser and handwash the previous week were soon stripped, of toilet rolls, fresh fruit and veg, tinned food, cereals, crisps, meat, fresh and frozen. Supermarkets imposed limits (arguably way too late). Shelves that were restocked by night workers in supermarkets, were quickly stripped bare by shoppers who rushed in when the stores opened.

What all this demonstrated, is that the supply of food, particularly in the end stage, delivery to customer is especially fragile. Whether through online delivery, or in store. The supermarkets have assured the general public that enough food is available which may be true but the delivery of it to consumers is the weak link. It is possible to see supply disrupted by a number of sick delivery drivers causing issues for supermarkets in a region of the country.

Supply of food in the developed world in normal times is rarely a pressing issue. As Tim Laing professor of food policy at London’s City University puts it “panic buying aside, our supermarket shelves are usually full. We have access to a greater range of ingredients at better prices than at any time in human history” (Laing, 2020).

As a researcher on this topic its interesting to see an actual focus on short and long term issues of food security globally.

Laing in his book warns that the UK is food system is “stretched, open to disruption and far from resilient” (Laing, 2020).

Laing goes further to state the bitter reality that faces us ‘we have a massively fragile just-in-time supply chain which could easily collapse; a depleted agriculture sector which produces only around 50% of the food we actually eat, leaving us at the mercies of the international markets; and production methods which are damaging to the environment and human health’ (Laing, 2020).

With UK overeliance on international markets and an inability to grow enough food (due to lack of usable land) for its citizens, which is not solely a UK issue. We have to turn to researching into other means of production and look into altering the means of consumption incrementally.

The food system is fragile, complex and not able to react to the demands of panic buying without interventionist policies, food is very much a finite resource and the production of it even more so. A good thing was at the time of this crisis there were no high rates of food loss present in the UK. This would have put untold strain on the food supply system. The panic buying has now ceased, largely because people have stocks of food to last over two weeks and also because of the restrictions in place at the major supermarkets.

One thing the pandemic is demonstrating is that policymakers must be proactive with regards to the food system, it is not enough for policymakers to take a laissez-faire approach.

More updates on the topic of food security, particularly in this context will be posted here.

References:

Rayner, J. (2020) ‘Diet, health, inequality: why Britain’s food supply system doesn’t work’, The Observer, 22nd March [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/22/tim-lang-interview-professor-of-food-policy-city-university-supply-chain-crisis (Accessed 13 April 2020).

Wood, Z. (2020) ‘Supermarkets ready for a new week of rising to the virus’s challenge’, The Guardian, 29th March [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/29/supermarkets-ready-new-week-virus-challenge (Accessed 13 April 2020).

Happy 2020!

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year 2020

Happy 2020 to all my readers.

I am terribly sorry about the lack of activity this year. I do have a new post in the pipeline ready to publish in around 2 weeks time. Feel free to check out my latest news articles on food security.

There will much more to come on my research interests in the new decade.

I hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas and I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Best wishes for the future 🙂

MSc International Public Policy Graduation

I graduated (again) back in December 2018. Followers of this blog may be aware that I was reading a MSc in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). I studied part-time so the masters was over two years. It actually felt pretty swift on my part, it seemed like only a year of study.

Graduation day was amazing. It felt more a culmination of both my BA and Masters combined, so it really made this graduation feel extra special.

I achieved a merit overall which I was happy with. However, I am very aware of the fact that I could have actually got a distinction if I really knuckled down in the first year.

The journey through my masters really awakened my interest in public administration, partly studies of the end stages (implementation and evaluation) and behavioral policy. I am certain that I would like to continue research in either public administration or some policy field. The reason I hold such ambiguity over this is because I have so many fields that I hold a passion for. My journey through this degree has really been responsible for this and I feel much richer for it.

My journey from here involves getting into a stable career and planning for the future. I have some plans but I do not think they should go public just yet.

A video of the entire graduation can be viewed below. Unfortunately, only a edited version is available:

I did mean to publish this earlier but had issues with getting the video online and I have been extremely busy, better late then never! 🙂

30 today

I’m 30 today!

Today’s the day I hit the big 30. Wish me the best for the next 10 years 🙂

Onwards and upwards to the big 40.. eeek.

Over the past few months, I have been busy completing my Masters with graduation on December 19th. I am really looking forward to my second graduation and the plans I have for the future.

Big love to all the loyal readers of my blog.

UK General Election 2017

The political landscape has been shaken up as Theresa May u-turned on yet another promise. The conservatives are very far ahead in the polls now and Mrs May announced that she chaired a meeting of the cabinet where they agreed the government should hold a general election on the 8th June.

In the recent local council elections, Labour was trounced. This election holds importance in the type of Brexit the UK faces will largely be decided come June 8th. Most policies enacted by government aren’t as wide sweeping, and certainly aren’t as destructive over the long-run as leaving the European Union will be.

Therefore, it’s not only critical that everyone gets out to the ballot box. It’s also crucial the public make an informed choice on the type of Brexit (as well as type of governance) they want. Already we have felt the sting of food price rises due to a weakened pound. As prices continue to rise and real wages stagnate over several years this will only compound those at the lower end of society. The social cost is high, as will be the political cost of any government who commits to Brexit in the long-run.

Public opinion can change and political parties would do well to remember that. The public should too. The reality is only starting to just starting to bite, when the Brexit pain really starts to dig in it will be interesting who the new bogeyman will become. Will discourse simply deepen its focus on the other? With people saying we didn’t go far enough about rejecting immigration. Will it just continue to be the EU? The conservative, right-wing dominated media controls information in the UK at the moment so we can make a prediction based on that.

These are all pitfalls that will beset any new government, and could make them unelectable at the next election in 2022.

With all this in mind, choosing the next government is not a decision that any voter should take lightly. This is the most important election of the 21st century so far.

Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Main party leaders: Tim Farron, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Appleton’s election tip:

Think wisely about the main issue that affects you. Whether that’s the environment (clean air), the NHS (which certainly is from what I’ve experienced recently at breaking point), Brexit (will affect this, and future generations including tie up government resources and development for years to come), immigration (because a sizeable chunk of the population perceive this to be the issue of our times), disability (major cuts over the past 7 years) or if it’s something I missed. Have look at party manifestos see what party best stands up to fix the issues you face. I’d recommend this approach, and not basing it on personality, a leader is an important part of a political party no doubt but the people behind it and the values/issues they wish to tackle are as important.

This marks my first post since December 2016. I want to continue on a little more but I have just come out of a two night stay at Barnet Hospital due to severe glandular fever. I was not able to swallow at all, only spit and was on the verge of throwing up, my tonsils were killing and almost touching.

Hope all readers are well. I’ll be back posting soon. Even more so as I’ve finished and passed my masters for this year. Just one year left 🙂

It’s been a great 2016, now to 2017

Happy New Year!

2016, WOW. What a year.
No, I’m not just talking about Brexit or Trump here (equally big, but on a negative level). But personally!

This was the year of the graduation. The completion of my degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). The beginning of a MSc in International Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and a couple of interesting study trips.

The end of the year also marks the reshaping of this blog. It’s no longer going to be known as it once was. Some readers may already have noticed this but it going to taking on a more professional, politically inspired form.

I hope everyone has a great remainder of 2016, and a very happy new year 🙂

Take care!