In 2010, the United Nations released a report identifying the need for all citizens to switch to a predominantly plant-based or vegan diet. This is because large-scale agriculture is the largest devastator to the environment, and more resources are needed to produce animal products versus plant foods.
And now, the UN has released another report sharing that if the amount of food wasted around the world was reduced by just 25%, there would be enough to feed all the people who are malnourished.
At present, nearly 40% of food in the United States is wasted, and 1.3 billion tons of food (or about a third of all food produced in the world) is allowed to spoil before consumption.
That means 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat products are allowed to go to waste, even though 795 million people on this planet continue to suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.
While nations like France have taken action and banned all supermarkets from purposefully wasting food (and is presently seeking to make the law go global), it’s individual effort which is lacking.
According to estimates, by 2050, food production will need to have increased by 60% on 2005 levels to feed the growing global population. It doesn’t matter how much food is grown, however, if people refuse to adopt sustainable habits and reduce their personal food waste.
As The Guardian reports, reducing food waste would ease the burden on resources as the world attempts to meet future demand. This task can be as simple as planning ahead, donating leftovers, and/or using apps like this one which let others finish off your uneaten meals (weird, but it works).
The issue of food waste is definitely a first and second world problem. In developed countries, consumers and retailers throw away between 30% and 40% of all food purchased, whereas, in poorer countries, only 5% to 16% of food is thrown away. According to a report conducted in 2011, each person in Europe and North America wastes 95-115kg of otherwise edible food annually, whereas in sub-Saharan Africa and south and southeast Asia the equivalent waste is just 6-11kg.
Robert van Otterdijk, coordinator of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Save Food program backs up this statement: “In the developing world, food waste is virtually nonexistent.”
As the article continues to relay, it is mainly a matter of personal initiative that this much food is allowed to spoil every year. At present, the world’s worst food waste offenders are the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where 39% of all food purchased by consumers is thrown away. Europe follows at a close 31%.
Activists like Rob Greenfield are showing how easy it is to live minimally, reduce food waste, and make a global impact while using less. He doesn’t need to be the only one, however. Educate yourself, inform others of this travesty by sharing this article, and take action by reducing food waste in your own household today.