Waste Less, Have More

We are constantly told to produce more food, but rarely focus on the vast amount of food that is wasted worldwide.

Two reports this year do focus on global food waste (here & here).  The first of these says:

…due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. Furthermore, this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts of land, energy, fertilisers and water have also been lost in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste. This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands.

The conclusion is that:

The potential to provide 60–100% more food by simply eliminating losses, while simultaneously freeing up land, energy and water resources for other uses, is an opportunity that should not be ignored.

To repeat, the waste reported is global.  It is not confined to any one country.  It happens with both home produced food and imported food.  It happens to food destined for Indian peasants and western urbanites.

One would expect that reducing such waste would be a priority in both domestic policy and foreign aid programmes.  Yet we hear nothing from our government about this subject.  Could it be that government is too in thrall to the agribusiness lobby?  The purveyors of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers would have it that more production is the sole answer to food shortage.  Of course they would: reducing waste does not increase their profits.  But it does put food on the table.  And that, surely, is what it is all about.

Gareth, Cotswolds

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