web analytics
The Standard

The politics of food: Oxfam report

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, January 16th, 2014 - 10 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, cost of living, health, paula bennett, poverty, sustainability - Tags: ,

Oxfam has published a report on food (in)security, ranking countries on measures of such food availability, prices, and nutritional content, as well as the stability of such characteristics.  Overseas reports focus on how badly the UK (ranked 13),  US (#21) and Japan (#21) have done, coming in 32rd behind a raft of European countries and Australia.  NZ is ranked equal with Israel and just ahead of Brazil, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary and Canada.

While the NAct government is crowing about some positive general statistics about the state of the economy, looking in more detail shows that all is not well.  Paula Bennett is claiming that statistics show people are spending less time than previously on benefits.  But this does not account for people on zero incomes, or on very low incomes.  The basis of Bennett’s claims has been disputed:

Ms Bennett says $4.4 billion of that reduction is because fewer people are going onto benefits and more are coming off them.

But an associate professor of economics at Auckland University, Susan St John, says lifetime liability is an estimated sum, and countless variables and assumptions have been made.

“We don’t know how to assess that four-point-four billion because it’s not an annual figure. It’s a figure that reflects lifetime cost, and it sounds like a very large figure but we haven’t got any context for it.”

The same goes for statistics about the general state of the economy, where things are claimed to be looking great for businesses.

In the Oxfam food security study, even within the top ranked countries, such as Netherlands at number 1, everything is not rosy.  A noticeable proportion of people visit food banks.  On Al Jazeera’s TV news this morning, they singled out the UK austerity policies as having a significant impact on a high level of food insecurity within a section of the population: many are going hungry, or scrabbling for food amongst other people’s rubbish.

Time Magazine reports, “And the best place in the world to eat is…

Atop the list proudly sits the Netherlands. France and Switzerland tie for second place, but the United States doesn’t even make the top 20.

The report looks not only at food security and access to calories, but includes metrics like the cost of food, the nutritional quality of food, access to safe drinking water, and unhealthy eating habits.

This last metric—unhealthy eating measured via the prevalence of diabetes and obesity—is what undoes the U.S., which scores highly on other metrics like nutritional diversity and the cost of food. According to Oxfam’s data, the U.S. is tied with Egypt and Saudi Arabia for the title of second most obese country on the list, behind Kuwait.

[…]

The bigger picture that emerges out of the report is that both sides of the list—the best and worst places to eat on earth—are connected.

“The food system is global. Policies and practices in countries like the Netherlands and the United States do have an impact,” Oxfam Senior Researcher Deborah Hardoon told TIME. “We know that there is enough food in the world and yet still one in eight people go hungry today.”

The report blames lack of investment in small-scale agriculture in the developing world, unbalanced trade agreements, biofuel production that diverts crops from food to fuel, and the impact of climate change on food production.

The problem is not as simple as rich people in rich countries leaving too little for the poorest of the poor: The U.S. isn’t elbowing Chad away from the macaroni at the dinner table. In rich countries, like the U.S., obesity and diabetes tend to be disproportionately common among the poor. In effect, it is the poor, whether in the Netherlands, France, Ethiopia or Chad, who bear the brunt of dysfunction in the global food economy, Hardoon said.

“It demonstrates a broken system,” she said.

Using obesity as a measure of unhealthy food is questionable as some very healthy sports people get rated as being in the obese range.  The diabetes rate is a better measure.

The data is available on an excel sheet on Oxfam America’s web site.

Some comparisons:

OVERALL RANKING

# 1 Netherlands

#8 Australia

#12 UK

#21 US & Japan

#23 NZ & Israel

AFFORD TO EAT

Price Level of Food – Food Price Inflation Volatility

# 1 Netherlands: 6 – 7

#8 Australia: 19-3

#12 UK: 21-6

#21 US: 11-1

#21 Japan: 52-1

#23 NZ: 24-6

# 23 Israel: 24-7

FOOD QUALITY

Nutritional Diversity – Access to Safe Water

# 1 Netherlands: 3-0

#8 Australia: 5-0

#12 UK: 16-0

#21 US: 3-2

#21 Japan: 31-0

#23 NZ: 9-0

#23 Israel: 21-0

UNHEALTHY EATING

Diabetes – Obesity

# 1 Netherlands: 9-25

#8 Australia: 23-37

#12 UK: 18-37

#21 US: 36-46

#21 Japan: 16-6

#23 NZ: 32-39

#23  Israel: 26-36

NZ scores particularly badly on price level of food, and diabetes and obesity (healthy eating).  It also is not doing well on the nutritional diversity (food quality) measure.  Lack of access to nutritious and affordable food impacts on mental health, causing a high level of distress.

Most importantly the Oxfam report shows how the access to adequate food is not just a problem for individual countries.  The production and distribution of adequate food supplies are part of a globally connected system.  Australia’s ABC site reports:

Oxfam said the latest figures show 840 million people go hungry every day, despite there being enough food for the hungry.

It called for changes in the way food is produced and distributed around the world.

The causes of hunger, it added, include a lack of investment in infrastructure in developing nations and in small-scale agriculture, security, prohibitive trading agreements, biofuel targets that divert crops from food to fuel and the impact of climate change.

food affordability

10 comments on “The politics of food: Oxfam report”

  1. johnm 1

    The Politics of food indeed!
    The U$k continues down the plug hole of neoliberal madness abusing their most vulnerable:
    “Poverty is increasing, homelessness is increasing, over 500,000 use Food banks regularly. Some are even asking the foodbanks to leave food that has to be cooked out of their parcel, as they cannot afford to use the fuel it would take to cook it.
    These figures are the tip of the iceberg and do not cover the ones the authorities don’t get to see: those getting help from their pensioner parents, those who turn to shoplifting, etc. (also on the increase). ”

    “‘Absolute poverty’ of Victorian age has returned to the UK, says Labour MP ”

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/absolute-poverty-of-victorian-age-has-returned-to-the-uk-says-labour-mp-9057327.html

    “As an admirer of Victorian values, Mrs Thatcher often spoke in glowing terms of voluntarism and its links with enterprise and liberty. In an important speech to the Zurich Economic Society while in opposition in 1977, she told her audience that “the Victorian era — the heyday of free enterprise in Britain — was also the era of the rise of selflessness and benefaction”.” And as noted the Victorian era she respected so much was the era of absolute poverty and workhouses and transportation for life for stealing a loaf of bread! The current Tory scum regime are taking her legacy to the extreme.

    Relevance to NZ? We know Pullya Benefit is assiduously taking points from Pommy social reformers as noted by Xtasy. Prisoners of the Motherland will no longer be able to escape to Australia which has closed its borders to economic refugees.

    • johnm 1.1

      “As long as states apply all their resources to their vain and violent schemes of expansion, thus incessantly obstructing the slow and laborious efforts of their citizens to cultivate their minds, and even deprive them of all support in these efforts, no progress in this direction can be expected. For a long internal process of careful work on the part of each commonwealth is necessary for the education of its citizens. But all good enterprises which are not grafted on to a morally good attitude of mind are nothing but illusion and outwardly glittering misery.”
      — Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History; Seventh Proposition; trans. Allen Wood

  2. tracey 2

    s is why greens and labour and anyone else has to keep repeating, good news for who?

    the 50% of hard working kiwis earning less than $30,000 per year?

  3. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3

    Thanks for the information, Karol

    Another angle of scarcity of food: financial speculation on food by the very wealthiest of our world, so they can ‘make money on their money:

    http://science.time.com/2012/12/17/betting-on-hunger-is-financial-speculation-to-blame-for-high-food-prices/

    There is a debate as to how much this speculation really affects prices – I guess that will only be concluded once we have gotten rid of this system.

    http://www.neurope.eu/article/financial-speculation-raises-global-food-prices

    Laissez-faire capitalism has to go – it is criminal what is going on.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Laissez-faire capitalism has to go – it is criminal what is going on.

      QFT

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        it’s no longer laissez faire capitalism – it’s highly interventionist, crony klepto-capitalism.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1

          Are you sure there’s a difference?

          Over the last few decades in the rise of laissez faire capitalism we’ve seen ever more cronyism. It seems to me that the two go hand in hand. The government deregulates while giving their preferred recipients more and more taxpayer money through government contracts (the myth of the private sector always being better) and corporate welfare (we need to save these jobs).

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.1.1.1.1

            +1 Draco

            Dropping regulations simply allows the lowest common denominator in ethical standards to gain the upper hand. Corruption flourishes as a consequence.

  4. Will@Welly 4

    Growing up in NZ many years ago, Coke and the likes was a treat, now because of “pricing”, it is an everyday occurrence. Also the introduction of the “2 minute noodles”, something virtually unheard of 20 odd years ago, both these are high energy, low nutrition foods, yet they are often staples in so many families. How did we get so f**ked?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      A long road to serfdom for the bottom 50%, the next 30% barely holding their own, and the top 20% moving ahead.

      With the top 1% to 2% overall making out like absolute bandits.

      In other words, a plutocracy, transforming into a kleptocracy, with more than a hint of neo-feudal preparation creeping in.

      tl:dr we have forgotten to be our brothers’ keeper.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Green Aoraki Newsletter September 2015
    Attachmentsseptember2015_web.pdf - 2.64 MB ...
    1 hour ago
  • Rough-Shod Approach to Iwi Housing
      "The Governments rough-shod approach to social housing in Auckland has forced the Minister to clarify and uphold his Treaty Settlement obligations to Ngati Whatua and Waikato-Tainui," says Labours Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.   “While it's a positive undertaking… ...
    6 hours ago
  • More housing humiliation for Nick Smith
    Nick Smith has been completely humiliated once again – this time by Ngāti Whātua who have used his blunders to their full advantage to extract an excellent deal for Aucklanders that the minister would never have developed himself, Labour’s Housing… ...
    8 hours ago
  • PM must stop making excuses for offensive MP
    John Key must stop dismissing the highly offensive behaviour of his Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson and publically reprimand him, Labour’s spokesperson for Woman Sue Moroney says. “Maurice Williamson’s behaviour at an Eagle Technology dinner was completely unacceptable. ...
    9 hours ago
  • Charter application skew assists rich American
    The Government has skewed the latest round of charter school applications to assist an American millionaire’s goal of ‘revolutionising” New Zealand’s education system, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ACT Leader David Seymour and Ngāi Tahu’s Sir Mark Solomon in… ...
    10 hours ago
  • Key’s refugee response at odds with Kiwi traditions
    John Key’s response to the current refugee crisis is out of step with New Zealand’s tradition of pulling its weight internationally, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 1999, under a National Government, New Zealand accepted more than 400… ...
    11 hours ago
  • Coromandel rallies against the TPPA
    On Wednesday, John Key visited the southern Coromandel area with local National MP Scott Simpson and was challenged by citizens who spontaneously organised protests against the Government position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I went down to Waihi… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    11 hours ago
  • John Key: where is your conscience?
    The Prime Minister’s refusal to raise the refugee quota in the face of an international humanitarian crisis shows a lack of empathy and moral leadership, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “There are times in politics when you are faced with… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Report highlights National’s poor funding decisions
    The Government’s poor coordination between its transport strategy and the needs of the regions has been highlighted in a new report by Local Government New Zealand, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Local Government was forced to write its Mobilising… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government wakes up to Opotiki Harbour
    John Key is expected to finally announce Government support next week for the Opotiki Harbour development, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. "While it is astonishing that it has taken seven years for the Government to commit to this… ...
    1 day ago
  • New figures show speculators rampant
    New figures released by the Reserve Bank show there’s been an explosion in mortgage lending with most of the growth going to property investors, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Reserve Bank data shows mortgage lending was up 6 per… ...
    2 days ago
  • Spring is here – not pollen your leg
    It’s the first day of spring, and many people will be thinking about getting stuck into the weeds in the garden ready for planting. This year September is also Bee Aware Month. While there is a lack of movement from… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 days ago
  • Government must do more to help global refugee crisis
    John Key must urgently increase our refugee quota and let New Zealand play its part in helping address the tragic humanitarian crisis unfolding around the world, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The refugee crisis in countries like Lebanon and Austria… ...
    2 days ago
  • The latest equal pay case – Go the Midwives
    ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Key’s threat to veto premature
    John Key’s threat that he might use a financial veto against the Bill that will introduce 26 weeks Paid Parental Leave is premature and based on inflated costings, says the bill’s sponsor, Labour ‘s Sue Moroney.  “The Government keeps saying… ...
    3 days ago
  • Reflections on the plastic bag tour
    After a marathon public tour around New Zealand that took me to 29 different places around New Zealand from the far north of Kaitaia to the deep south of Invercargill to talk about phasing out plastic bag use, I wanted… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    3 days ago
  • Labour celebrates Tongan language and diversity
    Tongan Language Week is a timely reminder of the importance and beauty of our Pacific culture, identity and language in New Zealand, says our first Tongan born, Tongan speaking MP Jenny Salesa.  The theme for Tongan Language Week in 2015… ...
    3 days ago
  • Privatising CYF about ideology not care
    John Key’s suggestions today that Child Youth and Family could be privatized will be a terrifying thought for New Zealanders already dealing with the mess created in private prisons and plans to sell our state houses to Australians, Opposition Leader… ...
    3 days ago
  • Govt must make most of Jetstar competition
    Government agencies should pledge to always buy “the best fare of the day” to maximise competition between Jetstar and Air New Zealand and ensure savings for taxpayers while boosting services to regional New Zealand, Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Phil Twyford says.… ...
    4 days ago
  • Time for inquiry into petrol margins
    It’s time for an inquiry into petrol companies as margins are once again at the high levels that prompted concerns late last year, says Labour's Energy Spokesperson Stuart Nash. "Over the December January holiday period, petrol importer margins jumped to… ...
    6 days ago
  • More talk as Auckland congestion worsens
    The main impact of the Government’s agreement with Auckland Council today will be simply to delay still further decisions needed to relieve the city’s traffic congestion, says Labour’s Auckland Issues Spokesperson, Phil Goff. “Government has been aware for more than… ...
    1 week ago
  • Serco inquiry extended
    A two month delay to the Government investigation into prison fight clubs shows the extent of problems within the Serco circus, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “My office received a tsunami of complaints so I’m not surprised the terms… ...
    1 week ago
  • Truck Shops ignore consumer laws
    A damning Commerce Commission report out today highlights the failure of the Government to protect poor and vulnerable families from unscrupulous truck shops, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson David Shearer. “The report found that 31 out of 32 firms it… ...
    1 week ago
  • Taihoa at Ihumatao says Labour
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has called on the Government to rethink its controversial Special Housing Area in Māngere. Auckland Council is today meeting to discuss the development which borders the Otuataua Stonefield Historic Reserve. This project is to get… ...
    1 week ago
  • Figures suggest National deliberately excluded farming
    Figures showing the dairy industry would be categorised as high risk if there were a further five severe injuries within a year, strongly suggests National designed its flawed system to deliberately exclude farming, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bleak report on the state of our children
    A damning conclusion by the Children’s Commissioner today that ‘we don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the indications are not good’ should make fixing CYFs a top priority for this Government, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Dodgy data used to justify axing KiwiSaver kickstart
    National’s agenda to run down KiwiSaver has become even clearer from a scathing critique of the Government’s justification for axing the $1000 kickstart, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Since National came to power they have not only continually undermined… ...
    1 week ago
  • Unsecure website risks Ashley MoBIEson hack
    Experts have raised security concerns that vulnerabilities in MoBIE’s half million-dollar website could lead to a possible Ashley Maddison-style hack, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The real issue here is not what data is immediately available, but what… ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy still the loser in Canterbury
    The Government has demonstrated once again how arrogant and out of touch it is in denying Cantabrians the same democratic rights as the rest of the country, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Environment Canterbury Bill which has been… ...
    1 week ago
  • Waiver cost still a mystery
    The Government still has no idea what it’s going to cost community and voluntary groups to get a waiver from the fees police will charge to carry out checks on their staff and volunteers, says Labour’s Community and Voluntary spokesperson… ...
    1 week ago
  • China exports fall 27 per cent in a year
    Exports to China have fallen by 27 per cent over the last 12 months - showing that the looming economic slowdown should have been expected by the Government, says Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark. “The Chinese economic slowdown should… ...
    1 week ago
  • National should support all families for 26 weeks
    Families with multiple babies, and those born prematurely or with disabilities, are the winners from moves to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks but the Government must give all babies the same head start in life, Labour’s spokesperson for… ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s health and safety shambles puts school camps at risk
    Reports that schools are considering scrapping student camps and tearing out playgrounds highlights just how badly National has managed its health and safety reforms, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Schools have been left completely in the dark about the… ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s asset stripping agenda hits schools
    National’s fire-sale of school houses and land is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and will have huge unintended consequences that we will pay for in years to come, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. Documents obtained by Labour show the Ministry of Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • Takahe massacre supposed to get all New Zealanders involved in conservation
    The Minister’s claim that a  botched cull of one of New Zealand’s rarest birds was a way of getting all New Zealanders involved in conservation is offensive and ludicrous, Labour’s conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.  “An email from Minister Maggie… ...
    1 week ago
  • Serco circus rolls on with revelations of fight club practice
    Further revelations that a Serco prison guard was coaching inmates on fight club techniques confirms a fully independent inquiry needs to take place, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The Minister’s statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government targets put ahead of students’ education
    The Government must urgently reassess the way it sets NCEA targets after a new report found they are forcing schools to “credit farm” and are undermining the qualification, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “A PPTA report released today says… ...
    1 week ago
  • ER patients in corridors as health cuts bite
    Patients are being forced to wait for hours on beds in corridors as cash strapped hospitals struggle to keep up with budget cuts, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “People coming to the emergency room and being forced to wait… ...
    1 week ago
  • Not too late to fix Health and Safety for New Zealand’s workers
    The Government and its minor party supporters are showing an arrogant disregard for workers’ lives by not agreeing to a cross-party solution to the botched Health and Safety bill, Opposition leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday I wrote to the Prime… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Council of Infrastructure Development
    Tēnā Kotou Katoa. Thank you so much for having me along to speak today. Can I begin by acknowledging John Rae, the President, and Stephen Selwood, the chief executive of the Council for Infrastructure Development. ...
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank points finger at Govt inaction
    In scathing criticism of the Government’s inaction, the Reserve Bank says Auckland housing supply is growing nowhere near fast enough to make a dent the housing shortage, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer today… ...
    1 week ago
  • Chickens come home to roost on climate change
    The Government’s gutting of the Emissions Trading Scheme has caused foresters to leave and emissions to rise, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods. “The release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Facts and Figures Report for 2014 on the ETS… ...
    1 week ago
  • Website adds to long list of big spends at MBIE
    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s $560,000 outlay on its new website is further evidence of excessive spending by Steven Joyce on his pet project super ministry, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says.  “Hot on the heels of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee warned over EQC repairs but ignored them
    Gerry Brownlee was warned that EQC’s underfloor repairs weren’t being done properly by industry experts, the cross party working group and in public but he arrogantly ignored them all, says Labour’s Earthquake Commission spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.  “Today’s apology and commitment… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Serco wants in on state house sell off
    The Government must keep scandal plagued outsourcing company Serco away from our state housing after their disastrous record running Mt Eden prison, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Today it has emerged that at the same time Serco was under… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Come clean on Pasifika education centre
    Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iinga needs to come clean and tell the Pasifika communities if he’s working to save the Pasifika Education Centre or shut it down, Labour’s Pasifika spokesperson Su’a William Sio says.  “I’m gutted the Pasifika Education Centre funding… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for NZTA to work on alternatives to flyover
    The High Court decision rejecting the New Zealand Transport Agency’s attempts to build the Basin Reserve flyover must now mean that NZTA finally works with the community on other options for transport solutions in Wellington, Grant Robertson and Annette King… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shiny new system leads to record truancy
    Record high truancy rates shows the Government’s much-vaunted new attendance system is an abysmal failure, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Data released today shows truancy rates have spiked more than 15 per cent in 2014 and are now at… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Woodhouse wrong about quarries
      The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse was wrong yesterday when he said limestone quarries were covered by the farcical Health and Safety legislation, says Labour’s Associate Labour spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “He said he ‘understood’ limestone quarries… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Taxpayers money spent on culling one of our rarest birds
    It beggars belief that four endangered takahe were killed by incompetent cullers contracted to the Department of Conservation and the Minister must explain this wanton destruction, says Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “It must not be forgotten that there are only… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere