World wastes half its food, study finds

Waste more, want more. This could be the mantra of Big Ag/Big Food as the industrial food lobby is sometimes called.  But, along comes a new report like the recent one* from the IME (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) that highlights how tremendously wasteful our farming and food system is, and the volume of rhetoric increases exponentially. Think of the waste in it’s more complete version, including the energy, water, chemicals and labor that was used to produce, transport and store what’s not used, and you’ll really have a better picture of how badly out of whack our system is.

In 2011, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization published a study entitled Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, Causes and Prevention. This study four that industrialized countries waste 222 million tons of food every year. The United States alone wastes 29 million tons – enough to fill the 90,000 seat Rose Bowl every day. Yet, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger increased to over one billion in 2009.  Is the answer producing more food? I say that the evidence is clear – poor infrastructure, poor agricultural practices and over-exploitation of the environment are to blame.  

Couple this with commodity speculation and diversion of grain to produce biofuels over recent years, and you realize that it’s not a matter of producing more of the same food – we need to find ways to produce sufficient quantities of the right kinds of food, grown in the right places, with minimal greenhouse gas emissions fewer environmental impacts. We need to shift towards agroecology and supporting independent farms as a way to boost food production. We need to emphasize organic and sustainable farming methods, and move away from genetically-modified foods laden with insecticides, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Remember the Anthony Robbins saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. We already know what that is, right?


*Read the complete IME study here