World Food Day hits a little differently this year. The skyrocketing cost of food has driven the federal government to summon the CEOs of Canada’s largest food retailers to a meeting in Ottawa on Thanksgiving Monday.
Access to food is not just about the rising price of groceries in contrast to incomes that haven’t changed much. This year’s theme for World Food Day is Water is Life. Water is Food. Leave No One Behind. It calls us to reflect on access to food on a deeper level. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States notes that 71% of the planet is water, however only 2.5% of that water is fresh, drinkable water.
Canadians are blessed to live in a freshwater-rich country, however, 28 Indigenous Reservations across the country are still living with long-term boil water advisories. These communities have been systemically left behind, demonstrating that social policies and political will are central dimensions of ending hunger.
The statement “Water is Food” has an additional layer of meaning for birth workers. Water is the main ingredient in human milk, the ideal first food for all of us. When lactating parents don’t have access to clean drinking water babies are also left behind. When we view food and water as commodities we create a precarious circumstance for society’s most vulnerable members.
As victims of the Nestle infant formula scandal learned in the most horrific way possible, diluting formula with contaminated water can mean death for babies. In addition to the health risks associated with formula feeding, the cost of infant formula has risen along with all other goods. This follows on the heels of a formula shortage that saw the price for one canister exceeding $70 in the Territories in 2022 according to one of our members.
When we encourage and champion new parents to normalize, initiate, and sustain lactation and direct breast/chestfeeding we are engaging in a vital action to ensure food security in our communities. When we connect lactation support to action to achieve clean drinking water, and sustainable food networks for all, we are recognizing the intrinsic interconnectedness of social systems and family well-being.
You can learn more about the struggle to secure clean drinking water for all First Nations in Canada at First Nations Drinking Water Settlement. To learn more about how you can support Indigenous land and water defenders in Canada visit Indigenous Climate Action.
Keira Grant (she/her) Inclusion and Engagement Lead – Racialized Communities
Keira brings a wealth of experience to the Online Community Moderator role. She is a Queer, Black woman with a twenty-year track record in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) education, projects, and community building initiatives.