Why Food Security Matters in Singapore
On Saturday afternoon, October 6 in Singapore, we will be speaking to NOSHtrekker Host Manda Foo, who is also Chief Adventurer at Bollywood Adventures and author of “Food Matters: Food Security and the Future of Food” (Amazon).
The topic? How to ensure our nation will be able to feed its people and what we need to do to ensure abundance for future generations.
We share our initial conversations below.
What should people be concerned about when it comes to food security in Singapore?
Manda Foo: People should be concerned about the fact that we import more than 90 per cent of our food despite producing more than 90 per cent of our food just 50 years ago, and how quickly agriculture was marginalised and nearly obliterated from national policy making and the national narrative.
The tide has turned – local farms (what is left of them) are now getting some attention but there is a large gap between policy direction and capabilities on the ground.
An entire generation of knowledge has been lost and I’m not confident the policy makers in charge of the future of agriculture in Singapore necessarily have the depth of understanding and foresight in reviving agriculture. The industry and community is here to help – but there must a a more collaborative approach to food security in Singapore.
What are 3 better choices that people can make at the supermarket that will positively impact food security?
1. Support local – look for the “Love Homegrown Produce” logo and start to recognise local farm brands. Buying local produce keeps local farmers in business and that is the most direct way to contribute to food security and sustainability.
2. Choose fresh vegetables, eggs, poultry and farmed fish – vegetables, eggs, and white meat use a lot less resources to grow than red meat. If a large number of people in society make a conscious and collective choice to orientate their diets towards more environmentally sustainable options, this will make a positive impact on food security.
Raising beef uses 10 times more precious resources such as water and land than poultry, so white meat is a more environmental choice. Over-fishing has decimated wild fish stocks, especially in Asia, so make a conscious choice to choose farmed fish.
3. Eat fresh food over processed food. Food security is also about nutrition security. Urban consumers eat a lot of processed food that is unhealthy and lacking in nutrients. Eating right will enhance nutrition security at a personal and community level, which will have positive effects on public health.
How can we better support farmers (local/regional) from Singapore?
You can start by understanding what sort of foods are produced in Singapore and how to weave local produce into your regular diet, whether its goats milk, quail eggs, leafy greens or farmed fish. Consciously support local farmers by buying their products in the supermarkets, at their farms and at farmers’ markets around the country where farmers are present.
Another good way to support local farmers is to visit local farms and the countryside to understand their conditions, challenges and long-term viability issues. Singapore’s agricultural industry is small but it is critical and at a crossroads: ground support can help to secure the much needed policy attention and public investment in the industry.
Supporting local farms by visiting the countryside also makes a statement that agriculture in Singapore needs to be more than primary production – it should also be an integral part of our national story and heritage and promoted actively as a destination.