An NYC Photo Album

This past weekend I attended Rotary Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York. I’ve always wanted to visit the UN headquarters — and I’m so glad I went. The overall goal of the organization – to have a peaceful world – is one that I admire and believe in wholeheartedly.

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Rotary UN Day 2016

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Nonviolence sculpture in front of the United Nations, New York.

I also had a few days to explore the city and went to the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park and 5th Avenue the next day.

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The Museum of Modern Art

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A special exhibit on refugees and displaced peoples around the world by artist Reena Saini Kallat.

After the MOMA I headed down 6th Avenue and stopped at Magnolia Bakery. I had no idea, but this bakery is apparently quite famous and was even featured in Sex in the City and the Devil Wears Prada. To be honest, the cupcake brought back memories of my cake mix days in high school — so I was sort of let down by the caramel cupcake  I chose.

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Inside a Magnolia Bakery.

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A cupcake from the busy Magnolia Bakery

After that I headed to 5th Avenue — I walked past the Rockerfeller Building and Saks 5th Avenue — two famous landmarks in the Big Apple.

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Police on horses near the Rockefeller Building (and those famous yellow cabs).

And then I continued  on to 5th Avenue and stumbled upon some protesters in front of Trump Tower. Not everyone is happy about the outcome of this year’s election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the outcome of the 2016 election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the 2016 election.

On the next day I did a tour of the UN. Anyone can go – you just need to sign up online, bring your passport and go through security about an hour beforehand. A vibrant mural inside bore the words “Do Unto Others As Your Would  Have Them Done To You”.  I thought about how if we all lived be this saying, our world would very likely be a more peaceful and just place.

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Mural, United Nations HQ

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United Nations headquarters in NYC.

Lester B. Pearson: FAO Father & Peace Visionary

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is turning 70 this year. The organization is headquartered in Italy and has deep roots in the commitment to end global hunger and poverty. More than 190 countries are a part of this organization.

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While digging into the history of FAO, I came across Canada’s role in the founding of this organization — mainly through the leadership of Lester B. Pearson. I found a website called peace.ca and read up on Canada’s 14th prime minister. My heart tingled as I learned how he was/ is the only Canadian to have ever been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Lester Pearson attended universities in Toronto before he began teaching history at the University of Toronto. In 1927, he began a career as a public servant though the Department of External Affairs as first secretary. For the next 20 years, he served mainly in Ottawa, although his special missions took him to other capitals throughout Canada.

In 1942, Pearson got involved with the United Nations as a member of the Canadian delegation to the Hot Springs Food Conference, which laid the foundation for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In July 1943, he became Chairman of the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture, which was appointed to prepare the plans for the permanent organization of FAO.

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Lester Pearson speaking at the first FAO conference held in Quebec City, Quebec, in October 1945.

70 years ago, in October of 1945, he was the Chairman of the first FAO conference in Quebec City, Canada. Pearson hosted many men from around the world who came together to lay the road for the very first United Nations agency in history.

Although Pearson was asked to be the first director general of the FAO, he is reported to have declined the position. While he enjoyed deliberations and bringing people together, agriculture was not the man’s utmost passion.  It seemed, rather, that Pearson’s path was that of a promoter of peace and justice, of countries working together, of harmonious international order and non-violent ways to solve conflict.

From 1948 – 1957, Pearson served as Canada’s foreign minister.  Pearson won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis, which earned him the title of the father of modern peacekeeping.

And then Pearson was voted prime minister of Canada in 1963. During Pearson’s time as prime minister, his Liberal minority governments introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada and the new flag of Canada. According to UN historical records, Pearson was “courteous, clear, and frank in his dealings with the press”. He was known to have loved reporters, and the reporters to have loved him.

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Lester Pearson. Photo: Vancouver Sun

Well, I won’t make this post too long. I’ve learned the Pearson wrote a book called Peace in the Family of Man (available online here) and I’m going to delve into the life of someone I now consider one of our greatest leaders and peace visionaries. Not only did Pearson advocate for international harmony, this leader also had a true gift for making it happen.

 

We Feed the Planet Summit in Milan, Italy: A Once in a Lifetime Experience

By Matty Neufeld 

I truly had a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed The Planet Summit in Milan, Italy. At the conference on sustainable agriculture, I had the privilege to be one among 2,500 people from 120 different countries at this global event. The greatest joy, however, came from meeting the 16 delegates from across Canada to learn about what they do to help our country’s food system.

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The Canadian delegation at the We Feed the Planet Summit in Milan, Italy.

The three-day event included meetings with topics spanning all different aspects of global food systems. From food waste, to economical profits for farmers, to seed collection, to animal breeders and ocean protection, the discussions were diverse. Whatever the personal delegates’ interests, they had a chance to attend the right conference for them. A few key speakers during this event were, of course, Carlo Petrini, founder of the International Slow Food Movement; Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. and promoter of edible education throughout the U.S.; and Raj Patel, a brilliant author who holds seminars on the what we can do as a network to effect change for the good.

Although each conference was unique in its own way, I believe the best part was striking up a conversation with fellow attendees simply by asking, “what’s your name?“, “where are you from?” and “what do you do?”. Since the common interest of food was in the air, it was easy to get lost in conversation for hours. I met people from Mali, Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, Estonia, Brazil — the list goes on. But as I previously mentioned, meeting with the Canadians was the personal highlight for me. Since Canada is such a huge, widespread country, it’s normally difficult for all of us to come together and talk about the specific issues that we as Canadians face.

We had one of the biggest delegations and quite a diverse group as well. Farmers, breeders, a cheese maker, a fourth generation oyster farmer, a student of traditional edible forage, a chef, a rancher and a fisheries coordinator from the Okanogan Valley were just a few of the people in attendance. They all got along like they’d known each other for years and had so much information to bring to the “table.” These people are the real ones feeding Canada.

We held a few meetings to take a look at the difficulties certain individuals were facing regarding food/agriculture and to see what kind of support we could give each other. We were loud and proud throughout the entire event, and although we may have received the label of “party delegation,” I feel it created a strong bond between us and fostered friendships for the future. Above all, I am excited for my return to Canada at the beginning of the new year. I plan to use the energy I gained from this event to follow up on the many projects we have planned and to continue down this good, clean, fair food path for many years to come.

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The Canadian delegation at the We Feed the Planet Summit in Milan, Italy


Matty Neufeld is a 26-year-old cook from Winnipeg, Manitoba who is attending the first international cooking program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences,  the “Slow Food School”.

Peace and the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World Report

In 1948,the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognized the right to adequate food as a part of the right to a decent standard of living.

However, in 2015, it’s no secret that everyone around the world does not have access to enough food. Some would even say that even though some people have access to food, it’s not necessarily the right kinds of food, either.

This summer the Food and Agriculture Organization released the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World report. This report comes out every year and summarized the global situation when it comes to hunger and food security. It’s basically a report card on world hunger for the planet.

The numbers are out

Today, according to the report about 800 million people around the world are food insecure. That’s better than before; overall the percentage of those who are hungry is declining.

Yet, while the report points out how many of the developing countries have reached targets to reduce hungers, those countries also have stable political conditions and economic growth and policies and programs targeted to vulnerable population groups.

What does that mean?

It means that peace is important. The report uses the words “political stability” a lot, which I refer to as peace. It’s pointed out how food insecurity can both cause political problems and be a result of political unrest. For example, removing food subsidies can lead to increased food prices, which can cause civil unrest (which the report says happened in the Arab Spring in 2011 when government reduced subsides for bread).

In short

Food = happiness. Peace = happiness. There is enough food on the planet to feed all of us to today, yet to truly reach 0 hunger we also need to stop violence and political unrest.

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World Food Day 2015

Today is World Food Day, going around on Twitter as #WFD2015.

What is World Food Day?

I tried to find a summary of what the event is, and the best I could find was one written on the site www.worldfooddayusa.org. It says:

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

The reason it’s celebrated on the 16th of October is because the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was formed that day in 1945 – 70 years ago. Those who got together to form the organization saw a world where countries worked together to solve hunger and malnutrition.

The event is primarily celebrated with the World Food Prize, which was created in 1986 to honour individuals working to create innovation and improve global food security and advance human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The idea for the prize came from Norman Borlaug, an agronomist who worked on plant genetics so that yields could be increased to improve food security. Because of his efforts, Borlaug was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

This year the prize was awarded to Sir Frazle Hasan Abed of Bangledesh, the founder of the extremely effective Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. The Committee has had a tremendous impact on the lives of 150 million people worldwide and has helped them escape poverty and improve their food security.

Apart from the World Food Prize, numerous events take place around the world. I think it’s important that we continue to give attention to the fact that not everyone has enough to eat. If you live in the West you (we, I) are lucky to have so much choice and abundance of what to eat, but this isn’t the case for everyone. We still need advancements and we still need people, organizations and businesses working to solve this paramount problem.

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The United Nations: So Young Men Would Never Have to Face a War Again

My heart sizzled as I watched this short video. The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 by men and women who experienced the devastating effects of war first hand. Our generations (those born after then) have heard their stories and felt their pain. That pain lead to a desire for change and peace around the world, and their vision for peace and international cooperation lives on today.

In this video, American Wendy Sherman, the current Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (State Department), shares her story and  the importance of multilateral diplomacy on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California.