Food and Conflict
In today’s world conflict is everywhere. According to the “Global Peace Index” published every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace, 105 countries in the world are currently experiencing some form of conflict affecting 1.6 billion people. This conflict takes the form of political violence, severe economic displacement, drug-related crime, terrorism, insurgencies, and all out warfare. About half of all global foreign aid ($829 billion annually) flows to these conflict countries.
For 15 years of my life I have lived and worked in conflict countries managing some of these challenging foreign aid and development programs. I have seen first-hand the disruption conflict brings to whole societies, economies, governance systems, and individual lives. The very necessities of life are interrupted or disappear altogether, i.e. food, water, shelter, and personal security can evaporate very quickly.
Some of the spices we bring you on Spice Your Life either originate in or pass through conflict zones on their way to the spice bazaars in the Middle East and South Asia. Economic life does continue somehow and people still need to eat. Once the sustaining basics of life have been met, people often reach for something a bit higher in the most dismal of circumstances to remind them of some normalcy. It might be the simple celebration of a wedding or birth of a child. Some music or a long missed special meal made with the few simple spices at hand, but which were so readily available in more normal times. A pinch of salt, a bit of Aleppo red pepper, or a few cardamom seeds make a difference in a modest meal. People can be amazingly resilient in the face of conflict.