Food Security
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​What is the link between food security and climate change?

Community food security exists when all people are able to access safe and healthy food.  This food should be personally acceptable, and come from a sustainable food system.  The food system should support healthy choices, community self-reliance and equal access for everyone. Changes in climate can have a negative impact on food security.  Also, climate change can pollute our food and water.

More rain and snow and high temperatures can lower the quantity and quality of the food supply.  Extreme weather events could damage or destroy crops. High temperatures can damage some plants, which lowers the amount of food they produce. High temperatures also cause water to evaporate, lowering the amount that is available. Climate change can affect growing season patterns and lead to an unstable food system. The global food system adds to climate change because transporting food around the world causes Greenhouse Gases (GHG), which contributed to climate change.

How does the issue of food security affect our health?

When crops do not produce enough food, there may not be enough healthy food for us to eat.  People who have a hard time accessing food are more likely to feel the negative effects of not enough healthy food. This can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Access to healthy food is an important part of a healthy and sustainable community.

Climate change can increase the risk of bacteria getting into our food.  Flood and drought allow bacteria into food and water used to grow the food. The bacteria can cause food-borne illness. Bacteria in food can cause problems with your digestive system such as diarrhea, cramps and nausea. Most food-borne illnesses attack the body quickly and don’t last very long (like food poisoning). The most common food-borne illnesses are Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter bacteria) and Salmonellosis (Salmonella bacteria). From January – August 2015, there were 157 Campylobacter infections, and 132 Salmonella infections reported in Interior Health (IH).

What is Interior Health doing to help?

Our Health Protection Office watches over restaurants and water systems with respect to food safety and communicable disease control. Check out our Food Safety and Inspection website for resources, food recalls and alerts. Also, check out Interior Health’s information on gastrointestinal outbreak material, or the norovirus guide, since food-borne illnesses and viruses can be contagious. 

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are a known driver of climate change. Interior Health’s Energy and Environmental Sustainability department measures our GHG. They work on ways to reduce them. The Energy Manager and the Plant Services team work together to find ways to reduce energy use in buildings. Across Interior Health, Sustainability Associates promote and start sustainable practices where they work. They look for ways to help their co-workers reduce waste and energy use. 

Interior Health supports the development of a more sustainable food system, as it supports food security and healthy eating while also reducing demand for GHG intensive food resources. Read some research on the effects of climate change on the food supply in the factsheet Foo​d for Thought.

MoH     PCQO