Iceland, a small island nation located in the North Atlantic northwest of the United Kingdom, went bankrupt in 2008 when global financial markets collapsed. Since then, the economy has recovered, but many factors affect its food-related economy. Here are 10 impacts on food and hunger in Iceland.
- Natural disasters have a tremendous impact on Iceland’s food security. As a result of the April 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, for instance, hundreds of acres of local farmland were coated in four inches of ash.
- Food poverty among Icelandic children, measured by the inability to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish or a vegetable equivalent every second day, was 6 percent in 2012.
- Depth of hunger is measured by the energy deficit in undernourished people using kilocalories. In Somalia, for example, the deficit is 490 kilocalories a day. In Iceland, the deficit is 130 kilocalories a day.
- High global food prices and the devaluation of Iceland’s currency following its bankruptcy weakened food security.
- Fears that the European Union would negatively impact food security in Iceland is among the reasons it dropped its bid to join. Among those who lobbied hardest against joining the EU were Iceland’s farmers, who used “food security” terminology to accentuate the need for more local food production.
- Though fishing accounts for 40 percent of its exports, Iceland produces just half of its people’s nutritional needs and relies on imports.
- After declaring sovereign bankruptcy in 2008, Iceland turned to its fishing industry to help it recover. Unfortunately, the price of fish fell 40 percent in some markets due to the global recession.
- Most of Europe has over-fished local waters, but not Iceland. It has an abundant supply. Unfortunately, fishing companies that had invested in domestic banking are now heavily in debt. What’s worse, recession in important markets weakened demand.
- The success of Iceland’s economy is heavily dependent upon other economies. That, coupled with its relative isolation, means that food shortages could result from disruptions in importing or exporting.
- Icelandic households are unprepared for food shortages. A 2011 survey indicated that most have a supply that would last for just a week. The situation is not much better for food suppliers. Their stores would be depleted in less than a month.
As these impacts on food and hunger in Iceland indicate, food poverty is not only a problem in the developing world, and it continues to have a disproportionate impact on children. In addition, even countries with plenty of food to export can be dependent on food imports and what it takes to produce food. What may be more, when talking about impacts on food and hunger in Iceland, is the effect of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions.
– Laurie Gold