Knowledge for better food systems

Blog: A global food system is less vulnerable

This blog post by Caroline Grunewald of US think tank The Breakthrough Institute argues that a global food system offers greater resilience against local production failures than a local food system, contrary to narratives that the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the fragile nature of the global food system and that local food systems are more resilient.

Grunewald gives examples of grain harvest losses in Europe caused by the 2003 heatwave, noting that global food trade meant the affected countries were spared from overall shortages.

The blog post also discusses local agricultural labour shortages, which can be made worse by visa restrictions. It argues that a highly localised food system would be more vulnerable to these, particularly in countries where local people are generally reluctant to work on farms (the blog gives the US as an example).

The blog post concludes that countries can improve their local resilience without cutting ties with the global food system, for example by maintaining grain reserves, intensifying domestic production and expanding food assistance programmes.

Read the full blog post here. See also the Foodsource building block What is food security? and read other COVID-19 content in the FCRN’s research library here.  

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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