We take pride in 'feeding the world', but can we feed ourselves?
We often hear that New Zealand is ‘feeding the world’ with the food we produce. Less hyperbolically, one regularly cited industry estimate puts it at 40 million people, including New Zealanders, which is actually about half a percent of the world.
But how much are we feeding ourselves? If shipments of food suddenly stop reaching our shores – due to disruption caused by a major global conflict, another pandemic or widespread climate-induced harvest failures – would we have enough food to feed ourselves?
This is the idea of national food security. And as a small island nation at the bottom of the globe, with very little buying power and at the end of a long supply chain, you would think this would be something that would exercise politicians’ minds. Our capacity to feed ourselves is also something within the realm of imagination: we have a temperate climate, abundant fresh water, and a small, highly urbanised population, meaning that we have a relatively high proportion of land available to produce food.
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Interested in this topic? I highly recommend the book "Ravenous: How to get ourselves and our planet into shape" by Henry Dimbley.