|Each household in the West wastes an average of two full-bins of food each year|
The discussion about the future of our food is going on. Since it is almost sure
I will start with some facts. At this moment there are about 7 billion people in the world to feed. One out of eight is chronically undernourished, all of them living in developing countries. At the same time we produce an average of 2720 calories a day per person while we only need 2000 calories (woman) to 2500 calories (men) to survive. Part of this surplus is eaten by people who are too heavy or even obese. Another part is thrown away by consumers without eating it.
The so-called food waste is an expensive and very inefficient act. We in Europe and North America throw away almost as much food (222 million tons) as is produced in sub-Saharan Africa. But where does it get lost?
Food waste is what we consumers do. ‘We’ as in people in developed countries. It is done in the supermarkets and restaurants but mainly in our own households. We buy more than we eventually eat and – although all of us have a fridge and most of us a freezer – we cannot handle leftovers other than throw them away.
Food loss is a problem in developing countries. Underdeveloped infrastructural systems make it difficult to get food in the right way (read: protected from transport influences) to the right place (distribution centres, cooling, etc.). These losses mean less income for the farmers and higher or unaffordable prices for the consumers in these poor countries. Thereby not only losing the food, but also wasting the input like water and fertilizers, labour and capital.
It seems that experts get a grip on where it goes wrong. Still the exact size of the problem is not clear what the exact size of the problem is. As a newspaper concludes in its article on the data deficiency in food waste, look for source-oriented measures instead of working at the end of the line. We can off-course continue on the relatively easy road in which we push the pedal a bit deeper, increase the input of energy, pesticides and fertilizers and hope to be able to continue this way for some more time. However, research has shown that there is a big probability that this will not be a long-term solution.
Then there is the smaller scale or local interventions which are needed in each part of the food value chain; harvest and productions, handling and storage, processing and packaging, distribution and marketing and finally consumption.