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Food Waste: Why Has Nothing Changed?

Via Tripple Pundit  by Mary Mazzoni   We all know the statistics. Roughly a third of all food produced globally goes to waste. In the U.S., this figure is closer to 40 percent. If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter. “It’s just extraordinary how we’ve created a system where hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry every night, and yet we have more than enough food to feed everyone but it just doesn’t reach the right people,” Jo Confino, executive editor of the Huffington Post, said on Monday at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas. “It’s one of those systems that is fundamentally not working for the planet and is actually becoming destructive — and we need to change that system.” It’s true that the global food waste crisis is — finally — having a moment in the international dialogue. But while more people know about the problem than ever before, those stats refuse to budge. A big part of the problem is that key stakeholders continue to seek a ‘magic pill’ when no such panacea exists, experts said in Austin during a panel focused on food waste. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Michael Dunford, who represents Tanzania in the United Nations World Food Program. This is true in more ways than one. Not only does infrastructure vary widely between the developed and developing worlds — and indeed the nations within them — but the intrinsic value of food is just as variable. In the developing world, the average person spends 70 percent of his or her income on food, said Alesha Black, director of the Food and Agriculture Program of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In the developed world, that figure drops to around 10 to 20 percent. With those numbers in mind, it’s no wonder that the bulk of food waste in the developed world happens down the supply chain: at the consumer level (40 percent) or via consumer-facing businesses like restaurants and grocery stores (another 40 percent), Black said. In the U.S. and countries like it, we simply do not place enough value on food. So, we think nothing of trashing our leftovers after a big meal or stocking up on ‘discount’ produce only to throw half of it away due to spoilage. In the developing world, however, the vast majority of food waste happens up the supply chain: foods left in the field due to ineffective agricultural practices or lost shortly after harvest due to improper storage. “It’s estimated that 20, 30 maybe even sometimes 40 percent depending on the crop is lost within the first month immediately after the harvest,” Dunford said of agriculture and storage in developing countries. But with 1.5 billion food-insecure people around the world — and an added 2 billion we’ll need to feed by 2050 — the solution is clearly not to increase the price of food and make it even less accessible to those who need it most. So then how can we, as Confino said, completely change the world’s food system and replace food loss with food gain?   Continue reading this article at Tripple Pundit... 

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