Do you realise that poor people around the world are dying from hunger, while Western countries are throwing their food away?
There is a myth, often used as a reason of continuous world hunger, which states that the number of people on the Earth is so high, there is not enough food for them all. It’s a nonsense. We would only require around 27 billion dollars to feed those in need. That’s less that what the US spends on perfume industry every year. Western culture is a 'throw food away' culture. Being able to behave so wastefully without consequences, gives people the feeling of power and comfort. If you are wealthy enough to not to finish off half of your dinner, it means you are far more richer that you can imagine.
In 2003, Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE has published the article, which confirmed that 50% of food produced around the world does not get eaten. Because of inappropriate production methods and storage, as well as poor transportation and human wastefulness, 2 billions tons of food gets thrown away every year. It also results in unnecessary use of water and energy.
In Italy alone, food worth 37 billion Euro ends up in the bin per annum. In USA, the National Resource Defence Council admitted to a yearly 40% food waste. In UK, 4 million apples, 5 million potatoes and 1.5 million bananas get thrown away on a daily basis. Yes, that’s correct - on a daily basis. In 2011, well-known university of Buenos Aires confirmed, that the town is wasting from 250 to 350 tons of food every day. That's 550000 portions.
It may seem like just human improvidence, but there is more to that. In recent years, strong consumerism has led to an increase of food standards, which people want to see in their supermarkets. Those standards are often too high and irrational. In UK, 30% of farming produce is thrown away, only because it doesn’t match to size requirements. And it’s not only a problem of Western society. IMechE has announced that Southeast Asia annually wastes 180 million tons of rice. In China, it’s 45% of their rice production and in Vietnam, huge 80% waste.
Shopkeepers and customers are putting excessive attention into ‘use by dates' on food labels and that’s also creating difficulty in food waste management. Getting past those dates, gives people the feeling that they should dispose of items immediately. It’s terrifying, but statistics indicate that 30% to 50% food we buy, does not get eaten. Food and Agriculture Organization is monitoring this issue. According to their research, an average person in Europe and United States throws away 100 kg of food a year, when an average person from Africa and Asia disposes of 10 kg. Citizens of 20 richest countries in the world are wasting together 220 million tons of food a year, purely by getting rid of food they didn’t like or it went out of date.
World hunger is not an economic problem. We do not have food deficiency on our planet. People very often just cannot appreciate the great value of their meal. Food is a gift from the earth, we wouldn’t survive without. It’s as important as the air we are breathing, so we should treat it with respect. The way that Western society behave is unthinkable. If you were to stock lorries with all food from around the world, they would surround the earth eight times. The question is, why is a tiny bit of food, still a dream for hundreds millions of people. Why are we filling our stomachs with sophisticated delights, while others starve to death? Is our narcissism and egoism a cause? Is it being unable to share and care about people who are not directly close to us? We have an excess of goods that bore us and quickly become unattractive. We are keep craving better and tastier food and that lead us to wastefulness. It is a moral problem – a lack of empathy. We just simply got used
to a hunger problem, often accepting that people are evil. This attitude is wrong. We have to change the world, starting from ourselves.
What will you buy in the supermarket today? Are you definitely going to use that much? Will you end up throwing some of it away? Have a think about it. Food, which you will waste is a dream for someone else. Someone, who hopes to last another week.
Article based on the book “Hunger”, by Martin Caparros.