Oct. 16 is World Food Day 2012

Read Soil to Sky, the Christensen Fund's graphic comparing agroecology and industrial agriculture.

Support of agricultural cooperatives around the world is the focus of World Food Day 2012, a global day of action against hunger.

There’s good reason for that.

“Agricultural cooperatives help farmers access and share information, get fair prices for their goods, and participate in local decision making,” WorldWatch Institute said in a statement.

According to WorldWatch, about a billion people belong to agricultural cooperatives in some 100 countries. They’re part of a movement to bring social responsibility and sustainability to the world’s agriculture.

In addition to ensuring fair prices for goods, cooperatives encourage “agroecological” practices which include composting and agroforestry, conserving wildlife habitats, and localizing food systems. These practices are believed to help farmers withstand the effects of climate change, increase biological diversity and the nutritional content in food, and increase yields. In contrast, industrial agricultural practices such as raising meat in factory farms, using toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and shipping food long-distance, can contribute to disease and pollution.

“Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue economic sustainability and social responsibility,” said Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General in a statement about the World Food Day initiative.

As part of the events today, people around the world are being encouraged not to waste food, and to eat seasonal, local food and less meat and dairy. Others are hosting meals, joining local hunger groups, speaking on college campuses about world hunger, and running food and fund drives.

Read more about agricultural cooperatives and world hunger, and find events near you at World Food Day USA.

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