A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) last Wednesday says a whole third of the world’s food goes to waste, leading to 3.3 billion tons of CO2 released in the atmosphere.
The wastage costs global economy around $750 billion each year and does not include fish or seafood wasted. In a world where 870 million people are chronically undernourished, the statistics are alarming.
The focus of this report was to examine the environmental impact of food waste, as well as investigating where food waste occurs in the food production process. The report’s authors stated: for instance, food that is produced but not eaten uses up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, the longest river in Europe. In Asia, rice waste is particularly a problem given its high methane emissions and large wastage.
In the industrialized world, much of the waste comes from consumers buying too much and throwing away what they do not eat. In developing countries, it is mainly the result of inefficient farming and a lack of proper storage facilities.
Recommendations to reduce food waste include raising awareness about the problems through media campaigns – coordinating international initiatives and strategies – and investing in public and private projects that reduce loss along the food chain from field to market to consumer.
What can we do about it? We could all take some easy steps, such as serving smaller portions and making more use of leftovers. And next time our children do not eat everything on their plates, let’s convince them to do so by making them think about global warming 🙂