Note: this blog was published originally on FoodDay.org for World Food Day. Food Day is October 24, 2012
Shape of things to come? Nairobi KFC, the first in East Africa
It was an astounding sight: a huge image of a beaming Colonel Sanders. The jacaranda tree in front of the shopping plaza made clear that I was in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and not a garden variety U.S. strip mall. This was the first KFC in East Africa and, the newspapers said, lines stretched around the corner on opening day.
In a globalizing, urbanizing, and increasingly interconnected world, the reach and appeal of U.S. fast food seems almost boundless. This reality makes for some odd juxtapositions: a McDonald’s outside the main Olympic stadium in Beijing. It’s the only food outlet in sight, and one of more than 1,500 McDonald’s in China; a new one’s opening each day.
It’s not just American fast food that’s going global; many aspects of the U.S. food system itself are. That means a priority on mass production of animals for meat, dairy, and eggs, cereals, and crops like corn and soybeans that play a huge role in the feeding farmed animals. Perhaps astonishingly, the combined “harvested acres” of vegetables and pulses (beans and lentils) in the U.S. are just 2 percent of the total.
But this system doesn’t fit the bill for a world where climate change, resource scarcity, hunger, and food insecurity are all-too-real, and concern for food justice, animal welfare, and real equity and sustainability are growing. It’s something that Food Day
, October 24th, offers a terrific opportunity to explore.