Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Inverse Food Security, From Brasil to Switzerland and back again

When I first saw this mission, I wasn't sure how I could apply it to Switzerland. Switzerland is not Sub-Saharan Africa. You go to the grocery store here and there is an abundance of food. The social structure of Switzerland has been engineered in such a way that the majority of the population lead comfortable lives well above the poverty level. When you look at the label of the products in a Swiss household, many of them sport a label claiming Swiss quality or Swiss guarantee or 100% Swiss. The last one you can see written on a lot of the chocolate bars sold here. At a design expo last year, I was offered a sample of chocolates by a saleswoman who boasted that she was selling some of the finest Swiss chocolate on the market. I asked her where in Switzerland could I find a cocoa plantation. She looked at me baffled for a moment before responding that she had no idea where the cocoa trees could be. That's because there are no cocoa trees in Switzerland. The majority of the products that are sold in Switzerland, with the exception of cheese, pears and apples, come from other countries. And this is true of many countries in the first world, including the U.S., Canada, most of Northern Europe and Japan. The meat that they eat comes from Argentina and Brasil, the coffee that they drink comes from various sources, none of them local, the rice that they eat comes from S. America or India, in Northern Europe, the majority of the produce that they consume comes from Southern Spain.
So, if a country cannot produce what it consumes, this can only be a delicate balance and a form of food insecurity, no? However, the opposite seems to be true. There is hunger in India, and in Brasil even though India and Brasil produce more food than they can consume and export large quantities of it to first world nations. The price of buying rice in Brasil has become too high for local people to pay because plantation owners would rather sell to foreigners who pay more money than locals can afford. But it goes deeper than that. The debt-system that the first world imposes on the developing world has resulted in the exploitation of the resources in the developing world so that the first world can buy food at rock-bottom prices. Why can you buy Brasilain coffee in the U.S. cheaper than you can in Brasil? Because Brasil has a debt with the U.S. and the U.S. has set the conditions of repayment in such a way that the debt will never be paid and therefore, the U.S. can continue to demand products from them at prices that they set.
This type of relationship is not particular to the U.S. and Brasil, there is a global climate of food and resource exploitation where first world countries take what they need from developing nations for unjust prices.
Therefore, the food security that I see in Switzerland is actually having an inverse effect on other countries and being the cause of food insecurity in developing nations.
How do you solve this? Perhaps politicians can grow a conscience and decide that they would rather pay a fair price for goods collected from developing nations. Perhaps they will decide to stop lending money and then charging exponential rates that end up crippling the nations economy, therefore putting them in a position where they can't say no to the first world's demands. Is this likely to happen? Probably not. And it doesn't matter how many citizens are concerned or aware of this dynamic. As long as the monetary system is in place, people who are able to exploit others for profit will continue to do so. The monetary system encourages this and discourages consciousness, balance and sustainability. Changing our current economic system from the monetary system to a resource-based economy would ensure that both North Americans and Brasilians can enjoy the benefits of the earth's resources, without one having to starve while the other grows fat.

Views: 26

Comment by A.V.Koshy on May 10, 2010 at 2:42pm
tell it like it is
Comment by John D. Boyden on May 18, 2010 at 10:23pm
Well presented vision! *waves at AV*
Comment by Chengyuan High School on May 19, 2010 at 2:27pm
I love your vision.
But almost all countries are pursuing their own interests.
Comment by Chris Ke Sihai on May 19, 2010 at 2:45pm
Yay! Thanks for saying what a lot of people have been thinking.

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