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food waste
We all know that wasting food is wrong, but do we ever stop to think how this careless act directly impacts those who are less fortunate? The U.N.’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) recently revealed that almost one-third of all the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems—food that could have fed the hungry.

According to the U.N., 842 million people suffer from the effects of hunger globally, and using the UNEP and WRI’s estimates, the one-third of the world’s food wasted could equal up to 1,520 calories for each hungry person in developing countries where malnourishment is widespread.

There is also a moral imperative involved in resolving this issue as the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim points out, “Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. We have to tackle this problem in every country in order to improve food security and to end poverty.”

What people may not realize is that food waste unfortunately occurs in both industrialized and developing countries. In industrialized countries, food waste is typically caused by consumers buying too much food and being too concerned with the food’s appearance.

While the problem itself is the same in developing countries, food waste in these countries is caused by the lack of technology, harvesting techniques, post-harvest management and even marketing methods. Insect infestations and high temperatures also affect the quality of food products. For example, at least a quarter of the crops grown are wasted in Africa, where 65 percent of the labor force completes agricultural work.

The environment is also negatively affected by food waste as fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals are wasted while the rotting food creates more methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that is one of the greatest contributors to climate change.

Many are also fearful of the effect the growing population will have on the availability of food after the Pew Research Center revealed that 9.6 billion people are expected to populate the world in 2050, emphasizing the importance of future food security.

As a global issue, many campaigns such as Think.Eat.Save. are now focusing on ensuring food security and reducing the amount of food wasted. A campaign of the Save Food Initiative, Think.Eat.Save works to alleviate the negative humanitarian, environmental and financial effects food waste has on both developed and developing countries.

As the organization’s name suggests, we can all do our part in ensuring that we are not wasting food by following these three simple steps:

1. Think. Planning meals and creating a grocery list before shopping is a great way to ensure that you’re only buying what you will eat.

2. Eat. Be mindful of what you eat, and save time and money by eating food out of the fridge first.

3. Save. Freeze produce so it stays fresh longer and don’t forget to make the most of leftovers.

Food wasting is a serious global issue that affects millions, but through these simple steps we can all do our part in reducing our “foodprint.”

– Meghan Orner

Sources: World Bank, World Bank 2, U.N. Environment Programme, U.N. Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, United Nations, Pew Research Center, Global Issues, Society of St. Andrew, Think. Eat. Save
Photo: World Food Day USA

Think.Eat.Save: A Global Food Initiative
“Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your footprint,” is a global initiative to reduce food loss and waste. It is a partnership between UNEP, FAO, and Messe Düsseldorf that seeks to spur widespread global, regional and national actions and inspire social awareness of the global “food footprint”. Through the exchange of ideas and projects, the Think.Eat.Save campaign raises awareness and showcases solutions to global food waste and food loss issues in both developed and developing countries.

Think.Eat.Save also provides a “one-stop-shop” for news and resources for consumers and producers featuring tips and facts. The website contains advice including how to eat sustainably and methods of preserving food. For producers and sellers of food, the site also offers suggestions for farming, processing and distribution, and restaurant management. Ultimately, the campaign urges everyone from the average consumer to retailers to think critically about food and take action.

In his statement for World Environment Day on June 5, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned Think.Eat.Save. Ban state that approximately one-third of all food is wasted or lost through poor storage facilities and transportation in developing countries. In order to address this problem, Ban mentioned Think.Eat.Save as a means to create greater efficiency in the food industry.

Food shortages are only half of the global food problem. The other half is food waste and food loss. As tons and tons of precious food and water are dumped into the trash or spoiled in transportation, the world teeters on the brink of a food system failure.

What Think.Eat.Save promotes is a solution for existing issues of the global food system. Instead of producing more, the global community is encouraged to take more responsibility for environmentally and socially equitable food systems. By simply reducing the amount of waste produced, we can save resources and money, lessen environmental impacts, and preserve enough food to create a world in which everybody has enough to fill their stomachs.

– Grace Zhao

Source: Examiner,Think.Eat.Save.
Photo: 2Luxury2

funny-shaped-fruit

According to a campaign called Think.Eat.Save by the Save Food Initiative (a partnership between NEP, FAO and Messe Düsseldorf),  a third “of all food production world-wide gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems. Almost half of this quantity is the result of retailers and consumers in industrialized regions who discard food that is fit for consumption.” This food is often discarded because it is considered unsellable by retailers or is bought and uneaten before reaching its expiration date. However, all of this food disposal adds up.

On a global scale, tackling food waste would save over $1 trillion dollars annually. Over 1.3 billion tons of food could be saved and used to help feed the approximately 900 million people that suffer from global hunger. According to the UK non-profit and food sustainability organization Waste & Resources Action, average savings are around $1,090 USD for individual families. Food waste is not just throwing away expired or funny shaped fruits and vegetables but also throwing away water, land, and agricultural efforts.

Think.Eat.Save is campaigning to make people more conscious shoppers, more aware of expiration dates, less likely to buy on impulse, and more accepting to funny shaped, yet edible, fruits and vegetables. Doing this, one can expect, will impact global hunger for the better, getting more edible food to those who need it and leading everyone to consume more carefully and consciously.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: NY Daily News, Think.Eat.Save
Photo Source: NY News Daily