Wasting Food While 1 Billion Go Hungry

Last weekend, farm ministers and policy makers gathered in Berlin as the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization explained that consumers in higher developed countries waste close to 220 million metric tons of food each year. These statistics have come to light while other numbers also show that almost 1 billion people in developing countries are starving. Just the amount of disposed food waste equal to the entire food output of sub-Saharan Africa alone.

According to the FAO's director general Jose Graziano da Silva, one third of food produced in the entire world is lost or wasted, equaling up to 1.3 billion metric tons. He also adds that despite producing enough food in the world, we still have 1 billion people undernourished. Over 64 agriculture ministers met in Berlin to discuss food production and availability among other things.

The FAO also pointed to the world food prices reaching an all-time high last February on surging grain and the FAO food-index averaging a record of 228 points last year, 23% more than in 2010. Yet raising food prices in developed regions like Europe still does not raise awareness in food waste since the prices also worsen food insecurity for the poor in these developed countries.

What's more alarming is that because of the expected growth of the world's population from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, the global food output must increase by a whopping 70 percent in order to feed the world. But if food waste quantities continue as such, the number of those who go hungry will also increase exponentially.

Da Silva and other food ministers suggest for rich countries to educate its population about food preparation and consumption in order to reduce food waste. As he puts it, "We cannot limit sustainability to food production, we need to also look at our food consumption. Waste less."

Photo: jbloom

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