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(c) Eleanor Shakespeare

Introducing… the Food Justice files

Food justice files

Imagine you can see the ocean from your window. In those waters swim tiny fish, which are rich in the nutrients that your – and your children’s – bodies need to survive. But neither you, nor your family, can afford to eat them. Instead, these once plentiful local fish – a source of zinc, iron and calcium – are destined for the diets of others. Netted right out from under your nose, they will be turned into food for farmed fish, which will nourish wealthy consumers inland or abroad.

This new reality for coastal communities across the Global South, was revealed by a study into micronutrients led by Kenyan/British Professor Christina Hicks from Lancaster University that showed how fish that used to enrich the soups of the poorest people was being re-routed elsewhere. A revealing indictment of some of the far-reaching inequalities in our global food system, the paper begged urgent questions that sparked the idea for this Food Justice series: who gets to eat – who doesn’t – and how do we fix it?

It’s a question that has never seemed so urgent. The Covid-19 pandemic – the outbreak and the economic aftershocks – has sent shockwaves through our global food system. The World Food Programme has predicted an 82 per cent increase in hunger by the end of the year, which Oxfam translates to mean 12,000 deaths per day. The media warns we have never faced a hunger emergency like this one.

At the same time, the way we feed ourselves has never been so up for debate. How did so many millions of people get tipped into hunger so fast? Governments, producers and consumers are re-thinking supply chains; major retailers, Big Data and agriculture transnationals are positioning themselves as best-placed to respond. At this moment, it’s more important than ever that the interests of the least-nourished are the ones being served by the food policy set in place today.

To get our head around these challenges, New Internationalist has teamed up with Professor Christina Hicks, to fuse the latest science with solutions-focused journalism. We will also be partnering with past collaborators On Our Radar – who specialize in surfacing unheard voices – to publish multimedia stories alongside New Internationalist’s trademark in-depth analysis, factual explainers and powerful personal stories that shine a light on the levers of change.

The story collections, which will focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, will appear in our bi-monthly magazine, on newint.org and elsewhere in partnership with other media.

You can expect stories that unpack who is in control of our food – and diets – and who is most precarious as a result; investigations into rising malnutrition in affluent countries and the export of poor diets worldwide; the unpicking of vexing, meandering food chains alongside explorations of power, trade and politics. And, along the way, the reimagining of a food system in which everyone gets to eat.

The Food Justice files launches on 30 September 2020 and will run to September 2021.

Our first two features – Death by Covid-19 - or Hunger?  and a food systems infographic – can be found on our project subsite, which will be home to all our content throughout the series.

Funding

To carry out this work, New Internationalist was awarded a Publishers Grant from the European Journalism Centre (EJC) through its European Development Journalism Grants (EDJG) programme, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The EDJG programme supports long-term, innovative reporting that engages with major development challenges, particularly in low-income nations. Our focus is tied to UN Sustainable Development Goal two: Zero Hunger.

We are one of eight publishers to win EJC Publishers Grant in 2020. Other grantees this year include De Volkskrant, Euro News, SciDev and Tageszeitung.

Neither the EJC or the Gates Foundation has a say over the editorial content of the series.

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