After six years of rising rates in food insecurity, the US may be seeing a steady supply of food on dinner tables nationwide. A recent Gallup poll found that for the first time since the 2007 recession hit, the number of families who do not have enough money to purchase adequate food has dropped from 18.9 percent this time last year to 17.2 percent – the lowest rate since 2008. While experts have not identified a concrete cause for this decrease, some speculate that the Affordable Care Act could have an influence. Prior to the implementation of the legislation, 66 percent of food bank recipients said they faced the dilemma of choosing sufficient food supply or health care benefits. Still, the 17.2 percent remains problematic, as before the recession only 11 percent of Americans reported financial struggles to purchase food.
Of all the items on the black market, you’d probably be most surprised to find H2O among them. In California, drought effects have become so devastating that some are turning to illegal water sales to save their land. Dealers steal water from canals, schools, clinics and fire hydrants and auction fresh water off the to highest bidder, creating resource inequality between the wealthy and the less fortunate. While there are fines for wasting water, there’s little written in law to apprehend the thirsty thieves.
Meanwhile, experts predict that continued drought could shrink California’s largest lake, the Satlon Sea, by half by 2033.
After a six-year battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote next week to determine the project’s fate. Those in favor of the pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas claim that the economic benefits of the pipeline are too great to ignore, while those opposed, including farmers and ranchers, cite potential environmental degradation. As the pipeline is slated to cross national borders, the final authority rests with President Obama, who has expressed his stance against the pipeline hinted that he would use his veto power if Congress passed the bill.
If you think living in a city means compromising on fresh and local food, think again. A recent study found that 1.1 billion acres (40 percent) of the world’s farmland lies within 12 miles of cities, with 16 percent of these actually in within metropolitan borders. In developed areas, many of these farms are new initiatives bringing local food closer to home, but for those in developing areas, established farms may have to compete with urbanites for water and fight off housing and industry expansion to stay on their land.
When thousands participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement to protest economic inequality, they didn’t expect they’d inspire a conversation about food inequality on the opposite coast. In 2012, hundreds of Californians broke into a 14-acre plot owned by UC Berkeley that was slated for commercial development and planted thousands of seeds. While the act was a protest against developing the plot, it was also an action taken to combat malnutrition and food inequality. By the end of the first summer, the land yielded two tons of food. Now, a film documenting the impromptu operation called Occupy the Farm will premier in Berkeley, New York and Pasadena.