Preparing for Peak Oil, Intervening against Hunger: Expanding Local and Regional Food Systems

Local market, fresh vegetables

The global food system has become largely dependent on a finite supply of oil. Rates of crude extraction are projected to decline in the immediate future, accompanied by a rise in oil prices. Judging from recent oil price hikes, higher food prices are likely to follow closely behind. As a result, populations afflicted by hunger may face a particularly sobering transition to a food system divorced, at least in part, from what has become an almost inextricable bond with oil.

In every potential crisis lies opportunity. In our efforts to prepare for a post-peak oil food system, what measures can be taken to uplift and protect the world’s most vulnerable? Among several other key recommendations, expanding the capacity of local and regional food systems may build resiliency against rising food prices, more expensive agricultural inputs and other shocks related to oil scarcity. By providing greater economic opportunities to the most affected populations, building support around local farmers in developing regions may also help to alleviate hunger. Read More >

Q & A with Olivier De Schutter on the Right to Food

Olivier De Schutter (center) with Brother David Andrews (left) and Robert Lawrence.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter recently spoke at the Bloomberg School, as the Center’s 11th Annual Dodge Lecture. In his presentation, he re-framed hunger by redefining the hungry and by identifying the roots of hunger, which are more often than not political (as opposed to technical). De Schutter insisted that hunger—and famine—is not a crisis of productivity but a crisis of power. “We’ve produced hunger over the years by depriving peasants of their ability to produce,” he said. CLF correspondent Leo Horrigan and I were able to talk with him about his research and recommendations.

What does the “right to food” mean to you, and how does the idea of accountability play into that?

The right to food is primarily about an obligation of governments to explain decisions that they make in light of the impact of these decisions on the most vulnerable segments of the population…. The right to food is, essentially, showing that hunger is not a purely technical question that agronomists or economists should answer to, but a political question that shall only be sustainably addressed if governments are held to account, and if independent bodies, including courts, can step in, to censor decisions that are not going in the right direction. Read More >