The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

Food security, food culture, and famous chefs

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Why Haiti deserves appreciation as well as concern

In my field, if you think of “food” and “Haiti” it usually conjures images of shipments of food aid, poor nutrition (one of three children is undernourished), and the general food insecurity of Haiti.

Haiti has a lot of problems and can be a very sad place, and unfortunately that’s mostly what you hear about. But Haiti has 9 million people who are living their lives and every day isn’t a disaster. There’s laughing and parties and friends and successes and great cuisine.

Chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh toured Oxfam projects in Port-Au-Prince and the Artibonite Valley. Photo: Shiloh Strong / Oxfam America
Chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh toured Oxfam projects in Port-Au-Prince and the Artibonite Valley. Photo: Shiloh Strong / Oxfam America

That’s why I love this photo essay that ran in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend. I’m really proud that Oxfam played a role in it. We took some famous chefs to Haiti – to see some of the challenges in overcoming food insecurity, but also to see some of the successes. And to cook and eat!

Rice plays a big role in Haiti’s diet and food culture and you can see it in these photos. It also plays a big role in Oxfam’s programs there. We’re supporting rice farmers to use new techniques to improve yields while reducing costs. Rice features in Oxfam’s advocacy work because we think trade rules, US subsidies, and special deals have created a lot of challenges for Haiti’s rice farmers.

But mostly, we should enjoy the chance to see more than just Haiti’s problems. Do take a look at these photos. There’s a rich culture – including food culture – to enjoy and appreciate.  I’m getting hungry – heading out for a bite soon.  But I’m going to save some room for a visit to Haiti soon.

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