“The word hunger is getting ridiculous; there is more fruit in a rich person shampoo than in a poor person’s plate.”
Most people with a sense of responsibility towards the environment wouldn’t because water like air is a primary giver of life for all living organisms. Humans for instance are sixty per cent made of water, while many other animals and plants are composed of up to ninety per cent, this mean that without water there would be no life.
Yet each time that one throws away an apple one throws away seventy liters of clean water because that is the amount that is needed to grow a single apple. If all the apples and fruits and vegetables alone that are thrown away each day for one reason or another are multiplied the total would be a staggering, almost incalculable amount of wasted water.
All throughout history water and food have been highly valued and never wasted because hunger and famine were always at the door. In our age of food abundance, instead, at least in some part of the world most people take them for granted and waste them unnecessarily.
In spite that 795 millions people in the world are malnourished and each year 3 million children die of malnutrition and starvation each year, one third of the food produced in the world is thrown away each year in the wealthy nations and since water is needed to produce food the amount of water wasted each year is so enormous that it would be enough to cover all the world’s water needs.
It’s not only a problem of wasted food, but also of the environmental pollution that it produces as the wasted food thrown into landfills emits poisonous gasses such as methane that is twenty one times more environmentally destructive than Co2. It’s estimated that the amount of environmentally damaging gasses emissions from food waste is equivalent to that emitted by a large country like India or Brazil.
In 2010 in the EU 89 million tons of food were thrown away, that is about 179 kg per capita with the UK being the worst of the EU countries in food wastage followed by Germany, Holland, France, Poland, Italy and Belgium.
There are many problems nowadays in the world, but in my view by far the most dangerous is waste. It’s worrying because if it continues it will eventually cause irreversible catastrophes such as the poisoning of lands, oceans, rivers and lakes. Moreover the gasses emitted by waste will generate a global warming of the Earth atmosphere that will melt all the ice of the polar caps raising the oceans levels by several meters submerging vast areas of land. This will cause a severe downgrading of life on earth setting back human civilization by many thousands of years. When that will happen famines, pandemic diseases and widespread mortalities will be much more severe than the worst that happened in ancient times and future people will curse the present generations for having caused it describing our times as an age of madness.
So what can be done?
Not much if when the leaders of the wealthiest nations meet in international conferences will continue to put business and economy before the environment and hungry people’s welfare.
As for reducing food waste so far only one country has recently made a positive step in trying to tackle the problem. In France a law has been passed that supermarkets must give the food that they throw away to homeless or poor people who cannot afford to eat or to charities that care for them, or be used as animals food or made it into compost for enriching the soil in order to grow food or given to firms in order to be converted into bio-energy.
This is a step in the right direction and an example to other countries.
All this said, however, that it’s not enough because while a lot of waste food comes from supermarkets who throw it away because they are afraid that they can be sued by customers in case that something goes wrong only 50% is thrown away by them, the other 50% is wasted by households. This means that individual consumers are also guilty and should take some kind of responsibility.
For instance it’s estimated that about sixty pounds worth of food is thrown away each month by an average UK family which is an entire meal each day.
The solution, therefore, lays in better food education. That is, in teaching people, especially to the young in schools, to value food and not to throw it away when it’s still good to eat because if they keep doing it, as they are be the ones who will inhabit the world one day their future will not be as rosy as it is now.