November 17 2014
(NaturalNews) It isn’t a lack of food that is the driving force behind world hunger, but rather a lack of effective food distribution. An estimated 1.43 billion tons of food go to waste every single year around the world, according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates, which is enough to feed some 3.48 billion people in need.
During a recent UN forum, fixing this out-of-control problem was a primary topic of discussion. Entitled “Feeding the World: Food, Agriculture and Environment,” the gathering, which took place in Naples, Italy, focused on ways to reign in the waste problem and develop new ways of conserving the food that we already have.
“We need a transformative change in our food and agricultural policies to have sustainability,” explained Ren Wang, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department.
More food is being produced now compared to 60 years ago, and the overall percentage of people who are considered undernourished has dropped from 18.7 percent two decades ago to about 11.3 percent today. But the sheer volume of food that ends up in dumpsters and landfills is shockingly high, and more can be done to save it.
Based on the data, about one-third of the food produced globally ends up in the trash can. In monetary terms, this represents losses of about $680 billion annually in developed countries and $310 billion in developing countries, according to the SAVE FOOD initiative.
Meanwhile, some 805 million people across the globe suffer daily from a lack of adequate nourishment. This is despite the fact that everyone on the planet could consume about 2,800 calories every day based on current output levels — that is, if all the food currently produced was distributed evenly.
Food waste occurs primarily at the retail, consumer level in developed countries; supply level in developing countries
Where the bulk of this food waste primarily occurs differs greatly depending on the country. In Europe, which is mostly industrialized, grocery stores and supermarkets are the biggest food wasters, as are consumers. But in the developing world, it is the supply chain that is most responsible for food waste.
“In wealthy countries, food waste often occurs at the level of the retailer or consumer, either at the grocery store or at home where a lot of food is thrown away,” stated Gary Gardner, a senior fellow at the research and outreach group Worldwatch Institute.
This is abundantly evident in the U.S. as well, where nearly half of the food produced is discarded. And like in many areas of Europe, trying to salvage this food is considered to be a crime, with so-called “dumpster divers” facing criminal charges for the offense of trying to salvage tossed food.
In the developing world, farms and processing plants waste most of the food, as logistics systems for transforming food intact without spoilage or damage is lacking.
“Food is lost because usually there aren’t systems for getting it to processing facilities and then to the consumer efficiently,” added Gardner.
If anything, all this waste just proves that the industrialized food model is inherently flawed, and that centralized food planning is highly inefficient. Small-scale family farming has always been the most effective way of producing food efficiently with minimal waste, and it is something that even the UN now acknowledges as superior.
“[C]onsumers in rich countries waste almost as much food [245 million tons] as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa [254 million tons],” says the SAVE FOOD initiative.
“[If even] just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.”