Food and Livelihoods

GLF 2017 Blog Competition
Udoh Benedict

Scholars have tried to give answers to the question that seeks to identify the source of human and animals’ livelihood. Is it basically on what they take in their system in daily basis or are their other internal and external forces that are responsible for it? Is there any significant relationship between food and livelihood of the ecosystem? Of course, it is an undisputable fact. However it is of paramount necessity for one to understand the phenomena of food and livelihood.

Food is conventionally understood as anything solid or liquid, taken into the body for growth, healthy living and survival of the living organisms. It can as well be seen as a substance which after consumption, digestion and adoption by the body, produces energy, promotes growth, repairs of worn-out tissues and regulates all the body processes. In order words it means that food is an important agent for the sustainability of the living organisms in this world.

Livelihood on the other hand is defined by A.S Hornby as “the means of earning money in order to live.” It means different ways through which the living species strive to make a sense of living. Similarly, the term livelihood connotes every effort that is made by man and other living things which is propelled and geared towards making meaning out of their existence in ensuring their survival and sustenance.

For food to be regarded as balance diet, it must contain the following six classes of food: Protein, Carbohydrate, Vitamins, Mineral salt, water, fats and oil.

However it is said that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. A particular delicacy that is applicable to a particular people may not be acceptable to another group of people. This is called ‘food taboo.’ Food taboo therefore is defined as a preferential attachment to a particular food that makes is consumable in some places but abominable in other places. In Nigeria for instance, some places in Abia state eat python while simple killing it in places like Anambra and Enugu states is a big abomination that requires appeasing the ancestors through sacrifices. In India for instance it is also a taboo to eat cow meat because the Indian Hinduists believe that it is God’s useful gift to mankind since it provides dairy products and is the basis for other products. Many Islamic and Muslim families not only avoid pork for religious reasons, they feel that pigs are bred in absolutely revolting conditions and are not worthy of consumption. Similarly, when it comes to child rearing, there are some definite food-related taboos Jamaican people believe in. It is believed that if children eat chicken before they learn to speak, they will never talk. Eating half an egg will make the child grow into a thief and drinking milk from a baby bottle will turn them into a drunkard. The issue of eating eggs by children was also a taboo in many primitive African states before the era of civilization. Whatever it is that makes something taboo, it’s important to know the local customs of the people if you happen to be travelling through any of these countries so that you can avoid making some of these foods flubs.

Food is very important for the survival of man and this will not be possible without adequate and sustainable means of livelihood. The means of livelihood in Africa and some Asian countries are generally low. Greater percentage of the populace live averagely whiles a great number also live below average. Sustainable means of livelihood have a huge effect on the type of food that we consume. Some of the factors that affect our means of livelihood which inversely affects the food we eat include:

Unemployment: The high rate of unemployment is at its increase in Nigeria and in some part of Asia. This is more rampant among the youth. People do menial jobs just to make ends meet and therefore, do not care the quality of food they eat as far as something enters their stomach to quench their thirst and hunger.

Poverty: Unemployment breeds poverty in a nation. A nation where people do not have reasonable means of livelihood, poverty thrives in. Many families in African continent cannot afford three square meals a day. The same case applies to some Asian countries. Bad government: Africans specifically have produced corrupt and bad leaders that are just there to amass the people’s wealth mindless of their living standard. While people die of hunger, starvation and poverty they enjoy luxuriously in their chambers.

War: War is also another miserable atmosphere that poses great threat of hunger and starvation to people. Children specifically are always direct victims of war. Nigerian civil war that took place between 1967 through 1970 recorded child’s mortality rate of about two million. Greater percentage of them was victims of malnutrition and starvation. The same case applies to some African nations like Uganda, Liberia, Syria, Lybia, Egypt, etc.

Overpopulation: The world is over populated most especially African and Asian countries and this makes the standard of livelihood very minimal including scarcity of food. Other problems are inadequate education, insecurity, cultural and technological problems Nevertheless, every problem has a solution. In order to checkmate the above problematic factors that hinder food and livelihood, adequate employment opportunities should be provided by both government and private sectors. Also, poverty alleviation strategies should be embarked upon so that it can be reduced to its minimum. In addition, international Organizations such as WHO, UNESCO, UN, FAO, IMO and others should strengthen their bond and respond quickly in times of war between and within nations. Adequate education is as well of great necessity so that the rate of ignorance will be minimized. Sensitization and creation of awareness should also be embarked upon especially on the dangers of war. When all these efforts are put in place, there is no doubt that suffering will be reduced globally and thus provide human kind with adequate food and livelihood.

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