How severe is the problem of food waste?
Howard Wu 2018 Apr
Last time I talked about water. This week I want to shift my focus on food.
In our daily lives, we purchase a lot of food to fulfill our needs and provide energy for a day’s work. However, the problem of food waste arise so severely at the same time. A couple of thoughts rose after watching a video and read an article, and pls feel free to comment your thoughts!
First, a couple of figure. Every year, billions of tonnes of food was created and purchased. However, equivalent of the food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, 222 million tonnes of food is wasted in the rich countries per year. Methane gas produced from wasted food is more than 20 times more potent than the commonly known gas that create global warming—carbon dioxide.
What does all these figure mean? In short, a severe wastage of food.
But it’s not that simple. Food waste arise from different situations. Think back on what you ate for your last lunch. Where did you have the lunch, at a restaurant, in the school canteen, or at home? Where do you think the food waste will go? Most of the food is likely to end up in landfills where they get decayed and methane is therefore released into the atmosphere, leading to higher sea levels, ice melts, abnormal climate and a closer step to the end of the world.
In developing countries, food waste come mostly from production. Lack of integrated packaging system and management, waste arise in harvesting and transporting. But if a government of a developing country is responsible enough, they could possibly try to eliminate the waste.
But it’s different stories for developed countries. Have you ever thought about this idea “I can waste food because after all I have bought the food and this has already contributed to better GDP”? Yes, they are beneficial in terms of GDP. But it’s the resources the Earth gave us fuels food production and resources are balanced. Once all resources had been extracted from the underground, they end up in the atmosphere, causing climate change. In most developed countries, consumers waste the most. As methane and food waste is so harmful, it's to reduce waste. Buy less food, save some money, but most importantly, you create a better environment for the future.