World Hunger Today
I can still hear my mother say to me, “eat everything on your plate, there are hungry children in India that would give anything to have these greens beans!” I knew better than to respond, “send them these, I hate them!”
Today another symbol of the great disparities in our social economic distribution of resources stare at us, millions of people go hungry while millions of tons of food are thrown away daily by those who can dispose of food without much thought for the hunger in the world.
According to National Public Radio (NPR) “a whopping 1.43 billion tons of food — one third of what is produced is wasted.” Food waste apparently occurs not just in rich countries, but it is also occurring in poor countries and it happens all along the food chain; from the producer to the consumer and in every stop along the way.
The amazing thing is that, not only is wasted food a terrible thing from the point of view of the hunger it could calm, but also from an environmental point.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report brings the impact of wasted food into clear focus. All that food we allow to rot creates billions of tons of greenhouse gases, and costing us precious water and land resources. A staggering statistic provided by the FAO states that each year, we lose a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River in all the food we throw away.
I am not always as environmentally conscious as I probably should be and my wife is always stressing to me which recycle bins goes with whatever I trash happen to be holding in my hand. But it is apparent that the environment is changing. Climate is changing and the population of the world is growing in staggering numbers. Consequently, we are all going to have to get involved in order to make things better.
The Food and Agriculture Organization is concerned with the types of waste by regions. Asia is wasting rice and vegetables and the developed countries are wasting meats. The waste of rice crops is of high concern because rice crops emit methane gas as organic matter decomposes in flooded paddies. Furthermore, rice production requires large quantities of land and water, which means that the high levels of waste are particularly damaging.
Asia produces 50 percent of the world’s vegetable production and consumption is in China, Japan and Korea. Vegetables, though, have a lower carbon footprint than cereals or meat. The United States, Europe and Latin America are singled out for wasting meat. The three regions account for 80 percent of all meat wasted in the world today.
The food security implications of the world’s food waste problem are both devastating and encouraging, says the FAO. The researchers calculated in 2012 that by 2050, we need to increase food production by 60 percent in order to feed everyone. But, they argue, if we made better use of the food we already grow, and didn’t waste one third of it, we wouldn’t need to boost production so much in the future to meet rising demand.
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the FAO, said recently, “If we reduce food waste and loss, we have more food available, without the need to produce more and putting less pressure on natural resources.”
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