Geography of Food

Attended a Geography seminar on Geography of Food and I must say I learned a lot from it- esp the AVA is doing to ensure food safety and security in Singapore from Mrs Tan-Low Lai Kim.

I was surprised to learn that the consumption of whole fish is actually declining in Singapore. It seems that the youngsters prefer fish in the form of nuggets or fillet as they don't like whole fish with fish bones.

She also highlighted interesting facts such how the chicken rice vendors came to them for help when live chicken imports from Malaysia was banned in 2003 due to the avian flu outbreak. Consumption decreased rapidly then as compared to the outbreak in 2006. The AVA had improved the situation by banning by zones in a country rather than the whole country e.g chicken was supplied from Johor when there was an outbreak in Perak.

Being a country dependent on imports, food security often pose a problem. Emerging economies with increasing affluence might export less as their people become more affluent.

There is also a challenge in declining global food supply with declinging agricultural productivity, competition for essential resoueces such as water, arable land, labour and investment as well as diversion of food crops for biofuel production.

Of course other food security challenges include climatic change, outbreaks, natural disasters, political uncertainties, restrictive trade etc.

Key strategies which Singapore deployed:
1. diversification of food sources
2. stockpiking of essential food stocks
3. enhancing local production through small local farming
$10 million food fund introduced in 2009 - R&D in farming techniques e.g. fish breeding, vertical farming, seed banking
4. Promotion of food substitudes e.g. frozen meat

It really makes us ponder about the food we are eating today. There is quite a good documentary on CNA tomorrow (10th April 2011) at 7pm - a preview of the show below:

No wonder one of the speakers, Dr George Jacobs, became a vegetarian. It seems that more people are becoming vegetarian not because of religion but rather due to health, environment and kindness (towards animals) concerns. It is a fact that much food has gone into feeding animals rather than hungry people - I suppose that's why there is a movement to be vegetarian once a week -

Many also debated on the cruelty of factory farming - for my students I am sure you remember the clip I showed you from
There is also another clip from food inc showing a chicken farm:

The last speaker, Dr Pow Choon Piew, talk about the Hungry cities.
click here to see the no. of hungry people in the world
imagine a billion people still hungry in the world

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