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American moms can help fix our broken food system

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

Mothers across America and the world hold the key to fixing our broken food system, which leaves one in seven people hungry every day according to a new report released today by international relief and development organization Oxfam. Results of a six country-poll commissioned by Oxfam show that American women want to do more to help ensure everyone has enough to eat and are willing to make changes that will help such as using a lid on their pot when cooking or going meat-less one meal per week.

However, American women report feeling disconnected from the people that produce their food and say they don’t have enough information about how their food choices affect people and the planet. To help answer these questions Oxfam’s GROW campaign is launching a new Facebook app and Pinterest cookbook to promote Oxfam’s GROW Method which offers 5 easy steps for moms -and everyone else- to feed their families in ways that help ensure everyone has enough to eat.

“In most homes in America and around the world it is women who put food on the table,” said Vicky Rateau Campaign Manager for Oxfam America’s GROW campaign. “This puts women in a uniquely powerful position to kick start the transformation of our broken food system with tiny changes in the way we enjoy our food.”

Mothers are crucial to helping everyone get enough to eat because they make the majority of food buying decisions. Women control around $15 trillion or 65 percent of the world’s annual consumer spending. Twice as many women cook as men and globally, women spend four times as long preparing, cooking and cleaning up after meals. Oxfam’s GROW Method emphasizes the power women have to catalyze change and suggests five simple steps for feeding their families healthy, delicious meals that will put the global food system on the road to recovery:

  1. Eat less meat: Access to water is essential to food security and more than 1.6 billion people live in areas facing water scarcity.  Meat production soaks up 8 percent of the world’s water supply.  If American moms were to feed their families lentils or other beans instead of beef once per week they would save 6,000 liters of water each meal. That’s the equivalent of seventeen bathtubs of fresh water filled to the brim and then some every week.
  2. Reduce food waste: About a third of all food produced for people’s plates goes to waste. In the six countries surveyed one in six apples ends up in the garbage– that’s 5.3 billion apples every year. Lined up side by side those apples would stretch more than nine times around the Earth. The greenhouse gases produced in the growth, trade and decomposition of these apples is equivalent to the burning of 10 million barrels of oil every day, more than the US imports. Only buying the apples we need and storing them in the refrigerator would help cut down on this waste.
  3. Support small-scale and sustainable food producers: If consumers in Brazil, UK, USA and Spain ensure two of the chocolate bars they buy each month are Fair Trade it would add up to over 12.5 billion chocolate bars a year - this action alone could help transform the lives of people who live and work on 90,000 small scale cocoa farms across the globe.
  4. Cook smarter: Simple changes in how we prepare food such as putting a lid on a pan when cooking, using the right amount of water to cook vegetables and reducing the heat as soon as water starts to boil – can cut the amount of energy we use in cooking by up to 70 percent and to help prevent climate impacts from hurting poor farmers. If women in the 6 surveyed countries took simple steps like this it would be the equivalent of planting 540 million tree seedlings and letting them grow for a decade.
  5. Buy Seasonal: A lot of energy is wasted growing food in the wrong place at the wrong time of year.  We can save enormous amounts of energy and cut greenhouse emissions just by eating more of what’s in season near us.

“Change begins at the dinner table,” said Rateau. “Women across America and around the world are concerned about the way food is produced and the people who produce it and want to know what they can do to make a difference.”

The survey of over 5,100 moms living in cities and towns in Brazil, India, Philippines, UK, USA and Spain shows that women in the US and other countries are eager to learn how they can help make a difference through the food choices they make.

Mom’s say they don’t have enough information:

  • 89 percent of women in the Philippines feel they know how the food choices they make affect the wider world compared to just 46 percent in the United States.
  • 59 percent of women surveyed in India felt a connection to food producers compared to just 28 percent in the US.

But they care about their choices and want to know how to make a difference:

  • 67 percent of US women are concerned with how their food is produced.
  • 64 percent of US women would like to know how they can make a real difference through the food they choose to buy.

And they are open to the steps recommended by the GROW Method

  • 82.4 percent of US women would feel comfortable feeding their family a meat-free meal once per week.
  • 73.8 percent of US women are bothered when they have to throw away fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • 76.4 percent of US women would like to know how to use less energy when cooking.

“If enough women make even the tiniest of changes, the reverberations will be felt throughout the food chain,” said Rateau. “Governments and the global companies that wield the strings to our broken food system will be forced to change the way they do business.”

\ENDS

Notes to editors
To read the full report: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/files/the-food-transformation/view

Link to Facebook app: https://www.facebook.com/oxfamamerica/app_364544693615521

Link to Pinterest cookbook: http://pinterest.com/oxfamgrowmethod/

Link to the GROW Method: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/growmethod

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