Looking at our Food Wastage Footprint for National Earth Day

The Post Harvest Team   |   April 22, 2020
National Earth Day Title Image

Each year, one-third of all the food the world produces is lost or wasted. Not only does this mean an economic loss, it means that all of the natural resources used for growing, processing, packaging, transporting and marketing that food were also wasted.

Imagine! 28% of the world's agricultural land grows crops that are wasted. That equals the total land area of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, plus the water wasted in growing those crops equals the annual flow rate of the Zambezi or the Volga Rivers, an amount that could cover all the world's household water needs. And as Agriculture and Fisheries expand into wild areas, over exploit natural resources, Forests and Marine habitats are lost along with their biodiversity.

Above all, wasted food emits some 3.3 Gigatons of greenhouse gases. If this were a country it would represent the third largest emitting country in the world. This cannot continue, with a future of more people and fewer resources we cannot afford to throw our natural resources out with the garbage. Let's do something about wastage!

Food producers can invest in better harvest and storage technology to avoid food loss. Food retailers can reduce prices of that imperfectly shaped vegetable and donate unsellable yet edible surplus grocery food to those in need. Food not fit for human consumption should be reused to feed animals.

Individual consumers can be more careful shoppers, use better methods to store and recycle leftovers, and request smaller portions in restaurants. Small efforts add up.

The food wastage pyramid is based on garbage. Policymakers can enhance the ability of producers, retailers and consumers to turn that pyramid around.

For example, develop capacities of food producers to adopt post-harvest technologies, revise those sell by expiration dates so perfectly safe food is not discarded, launch awareness raising campaigns to inspire consumers to take whatever steps they can to stop food wastage, reduce landfills through investments in transforming food waste into compost and biogas.

The solution starts with you. Each Producer, Supermarket, Household, Restaurant and Nation, has a part to play. It will take the commitment of all to reduce food loss and waste so that all the natural resources used to produce food will end up as meals for the world's population, instead of as garbage in landfills.

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