My research topic is discussing the food waste problem around the world, uncover the real world food waste situation, and discover and propose potential and possible solutions to help solve the food waste problem around the world. Food waste is an urgent problem in the world both environmentally and economically. I researched much evidence online, proposed solutions from three aspects including production, distribution, and selling to customers.
Regarding the issue of food waste, we can often see advertisements that shows don’t waste food in restaurants, supermarkets or other public places, but when I saw the conversations made by United Nations World Food Programme, I was shocked: there are 18,000 children are starved to death in the world every day, and 850 million people are in starvation or malnutrition… But in the United States, 40% of food will be wasted. “Almost all the hungry people live in lower-middle-income countries. There are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries. (FAO 2015; for individual country estimates, see Annex 1. For other valuable sources, especially if interested in particular countries or regions, see IFPRI 2016 and Rosen et. al. 2016). When a country becomes rich, it invests more and more assets to buy large, extra inventory, resulting in more waste in stores and restaurants. Among them, Europe and North America consume 100%-150% of the country’s total population nutritional needs.
There is some way to make the food waste impact on the environment. “Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane a more powerful greenhouse gas than even CO2. For the uninitiated, excess amounts of greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2 and chlorofluorocarbons absorb infrared radiation and heat up the earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change.”(Dana,2015) I was still thinking the majority release of the Co2 was cause the use of automobile exhaust and air- conditioner refrigerators. However, without any knowledge, a lot of garbage is burned, causing more carbon dioxide emissions. Today, more and more countries are disappearing due to the rise of the sea. Every time we burn a kilogram of garbage, one more country will face a crisis of disappearance.
“If you look at land usage, around 1.4 billion hectares of land, which is roughly one-third of the world’s total agricultural land area, is used to grow food that is wasted. Millions of gallons of oil are also wasted every year to produce food that is not eaten.”(Dana,2015) We create the food by using lots of natural resources of the earth, and we wasted the food. We threw it away and burned it. We not only the ask for the resources from the earth, but also destroyed it. We are destroying the only land that we can live. A seemingly inconspicuous food actually has more impact than we think. This reminded me to think of the butterfly effect. If we waste a piece of bread, and 6.5 million people worldwide waste a piece of bread, how much resources do we need to produce? If a piece of bread and discarded bread are not properly disposed of, how much do we need to deal with the bread we have discarded?
Farmers discard potatoes simply because their shape and size do not meet the needs of the supermarket. But many of the things they abandoned were available to humans, they used them to feed their animals. By deforestation, we use the not much left the available water and discharge more of the waste just to create more food. But in the end, we discarded these foods. “The population of the earth is expected to rise to 9.8 billion by 2050.” (Food Aid Foundation, 2018) At the end, when we have no holes to waste, what else can we have? Food is the basics of human survival, and the food is the head of food. It is an important commodity related to the national economy and the people’s livelihood. It plays an immeasurable role in the stability and unity of the country. But we only look at the immediate interests and ignore some of the practices that allow the planet to continue to grow. Thus, I will start my discussion around the issue of food waste, regions and solutions as follows.
You may not know, but food waste is an urgent problem around the world. It goes without saying that people need food to be fed, if people cannot get food to eat, people will be hungry, even starving to death. Global hunger is real, according to statistic in 2013, there are 1 billion people suffered chronic hunger, 1 in 7 people is hungry, 2 million children died because of hunger, one third of food is wasted, majority of countries in Asia, South America, and Africa are in different level of food shortage, and Pacific islands countries as well. There is $2 billion GDP loss to developing countries because of hunger, and the food production needs to grow by 70% in order to meet our population demands. (“Fixation with food safety means so much of it goes to waste – Independent.ie”, 2013)
Statistically, it is almost unrealistic to promise 70% of food production growth based on our current situation, due to so many people are suffering hunger, the negative impact of food waste is even more terrible. Food waste is a global issue. According to data in 2015, just in the United States, there were 35 million tons of food goes to the landfill every year in the United States (Lee, 2018). Quoting from the data source, “On average, every family in the nation loses $1,600 to $2,000 each year to food that is purchased but not eaten. That loss is more than what it costs to feed a family of four for an entire month.” (Lee, 2018)
Since there are various factors in different level causing the food waste problem, we could make changes in different stages of the process. From food production to distribution channels and stores, and customers. From the food production aspect, we need to balance the demand and production, use the right amount of natural resources to produce a reasonable amount of food which is needed. From food distributing aspect we need to improve our food distributing process, if oversupply happened, we can redistribute the food to where people and market in need, we could use government support and post more information on the online trading platform to facilitate this process. From customer and selling ends, restaurants and supermarkets should identify where does food waste issue happen, and cut down the waste, by doing so they could also cut down their own cost.(Dana, 2015)
Moreover, “Developing countries were more likely to lose or waste food at the upstream phase due to lack of proper harvest techniques and infrastructure. (Dana,2015)” Thus, there is no doubt that to avoid more food being wasted, how to improve the harvest techniques and infrastructure is an important issue that the developing countries should be concerned. Last but not least, leftover food still could fed animals and livestock, it is a way to save precious resources. If the food cannot be reused at all, then we should find a way to recycle it in a good manner rather than sending it to the landfills where they smell and rot. (Dana, 2015)
“Every year, approximately $400 billion worth of food is wasted. Not only is that money wasted, but that food also could have gone to people in need. By 2030, the total cost of food waste could be as high as $600 billion; Not only is this an economic problem, but it is also an environmental problem. If the food had been composted properly, it would have emitted carbon dioxide, which is a less potent greenhouse gas. It is important to cut down on food waste for both the economy and the environment. “??€ Food waste: An Economic and Environmental Problem, 2017??‰I can’t control the behaviors and thoughts of other people, but I know that only when I start from myself can I really influence others. Like my mother, she taught me not to waste every drop of food since I was a child, because the cultivation process of the peasants is very hard, and we should cherish every resource from the earth. I remembered this lesson and reminded them not to waste food every time when I went out to eat with my friends. I know it’s hard to do, but if we don’t do it, the environment of the world will not be changed. If the government and the factory pay attention to this issue, we can see the hope that the environmental problem will really improve.
Fixation with food safety means so much of it goes to waste – Independent.ie. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.independent.ie/business/world/fixation-with-food-safety-means-so-much-of-it-goes-to-waste-29622726.html
World Hunger News. (2018). World Hunger, Poverty Facts, Statistics 2016 – World Hunger News. Retrieved from https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/
Food Aid Foundation. (2018). Hunger Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.foodaidfoundation.org/world-hunger-statistics.html
Dana. (2018). The Environmental Impact of Food Waste | Move For Hunger. Retrieved from https://www.moveforhunger.org/the-environmental-impact-of-food-waste/
Food Waste. (2017). Food Waste: An Economic and Environmental Problem.Waste Wise Products Inc. Retrieved from https://www.wastewiseproductsinc.com/blog/food-waste/food-waste-an-economic-and-environmental-problem/