According to a report by the World Bank, 25% to 33% of the food produced for consumption around the globe is wasted every year.
The Food Price Watch report argues, “Between one-fourth and one-third of the nearly four billion metric tons of food produced annually for human consumption is lost or wasted.”
The World Bank claims that such waste mainly occurs during the production, transport, retail and consumption stages of food. This is bad news, considering millions of people around the world are dying of hunger, particularly in countries throughout Africa and South Asia.
Sadly, the report also argues that most of the food is wasted in developed countries.
“Overall, some 56% of total food loss and food waste occurs in the developed world; the remaining 44 percent across developing regions,” said the report.
The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said that the large amount of food wasted around the world is shameful.
“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,” Kim said.
Apart from the food insecurity that such waste can create, the World Bank claims that wasting and losing food also harms the economy and environment, and makes fighting poverty even harder.
But, how guilty are Americans when it comes to wasting food?
According to NPR, people in the United States waste around $165 billion worth of food each year. On one of the agency’s radio programs, Jonathan Bloom, author of “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What we Can do About It,)” said, “We often don’t tend to realize that we’re throwing away perfectly edible food, especially when we’re paying attention to those expiration dates and when we’re thinking of those as the gospel truth.”
He believes that expiration labels are placed on food items for quality reasons, not safety.
But returning to the report by the World Bank, consumers often fall victim to the deals pushed by advertisements. Since consumers tend to buy more food than they need, many perishable items tend to expire by the time they are finally willing to eat them.
It is ultimately up to the consumer how much food to purchase and how long to wait before eating it. However, the consumers can make a big difference in the world if they stop wasting so much food.
This can be achieved by paying closer attention to their own eating patterns and simply buying less food.
– Juan Campos