The Bright (Or Dark) Future Of Food Waste

Every year, we waste one-third of all the food we produce globally, while an even greater number of people are starving and don’t have access to food at all.

Sustainability, Sustainable Business, Sustainable Food, Food Waste, Sustainable Consumerism, Policy, Sustainable Living, The SustainabilityX® Magazine

 

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Food waste has slowly but surely become one of the most worrisome issues in the world. Every year, we waste one-third of all the food we produce globally, while an even greater number of people are starving and don’t have access to food at all. Food waste in the US is an even bigger problem, as they waste even more than the global average. Governments all around the world are fighting to reduce this problem and the impact it has on the economy and the environment.


But are they doing enough to ensure wasting food stops being a problem? Is the future of food waste bright, or will it only get worse with time? Why is food waste a problem?


We can say that food waste is an issue for three major reasons:


1. It creates a worrisome disbalance.


Over 700 million people in the world are severely undernourished. They lack the means to buy food, or the food itself isn’t available to them. Food can be hard to get in places affected by wars or extreme poverty, so such areas have the biggest percentage of undernourished people.


Meanwhile, the rest of the world, especially the wealthiest portion, throws away 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year. This amount would be enough to feed over 3 billion people. And yet, not a lot has been done to attempt redistributing resources to those who need it the most.


2. It’s bad for the environment.


Food waste is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Most of the wasted food ends up in landfills, left to slowly rot. As it decomposes it emits methane, a gas that is over 20 times more potent than CO2. Methane can trap heat in the air, so it is directly responsible for global warming.


Furthermore, excessive food production requires excessive use of natural resources. Many trees have to be cut down to make room for landfills, which also aids climate change. Another natural resource we use to promote food is water. By throwing away tons of food, we also throw away billions of liters of water we used to produce it.


This vicious circle of waste is speeding up the process of climate change just as much as carbon emission is, but it isn’t talked about nearly enough. If we want real progress, that practice needs to change.

 

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3. It’s bad for the economy.


An average US family loses around $1,800 every year by throwing away food. On the level of the whole country, the deficit caused by food waste is approximately $240 billion. Globally, these numbers are even more staggering and worrisome, as the losses are in trillions of dollars. Such big amounts of money could be quite useful elsewhere, as poverty is still an ongoing issue in all parts of the world.


So, what is the future of food waste?


How we choose to deal with the problem of food waste will determine whether the issue will only get worse, or whether we will get closer to solving it. It is clear that we need systematic change on all levels, starting from the individual, and ending on the level of the government.

  • Civic Changes We Can Make

To reduce food waste, every one of us has to change our habits. Making shopping lists and only buying food we actually need is the first step. Getting better at preserving food and making creative recipes out of leftovers is the second. The third and final step is donating and sharing food with those who need it instead of throwing it away.


By combining all three practices, we will all make small changes that wouldn’t mean much on their own, but combined would mean the world.

  • Governmental Interventions We Need

Though individual changes are important, they won’t be as successful if they’re not combined with new government laws and regulations. We need better laws concerning agriculture, harvesting, and processing of food. Also, imposing new regulations on retailers regarding what they can and cannot consider waste is another important area the government should deal with.


Helping farmers and other producers partner up into unions and ensuring they learn more about how the market works is also a step in the right direction. If they know what the market needs, they would be able to provide without any unnecessary losses and waste. Giving incentives to food producers would also be beneficial, as the quality of the food would be better as well.


The government can also help support companies that distribute food to those who don’t have the means to buy it. By helping those companies expand their business, they would be doing something good for the economy as well as for the people.


Whatever they choose to do, the most important thing is to act fast. The problem of food waste is only getting worse, and as long as we don’t do anything, it will only continue to do so.

Dealing with the problem of food waste is necessary for several reasons. It is bad for our economy and our planet, and it creates a big disbalance as one part of the population throws food away while the other starves.


How we will deal with this problem is up to us. What we do will determine whether in the future food waste is no longer a prevalent issue or whether it only gets worse. If we all do our part, the former option is not only possible but also highly likely.