We Throw Away, 1 Billion Starve: UN Takes On Food Waste

Fight food waste

Earlier this month, countries including Germany, France, Japan and the U.K. signed a joint declaration as part of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture efforts to reduce food waste.

With earth’s human population continuing to grow, food output will need to increase 70 percent by 2050 according to the United Nation’s FAO. At a recent meeting of more than 60 agriculture ministers held in Berlin, the agency called to put an end to the excessive food waste produced by developed countries as nearly 1 billion people go hungry in developing countries.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said that any food item sent to a landfill is wasted and that, “Even today, we produce enough food, despite that we have 1 billion people undernourished.” One third of the world’s edible food ends up uneaten—some 1.3 billion metric tons of food each year winds up in landfills instead of feeding the world’s hungry. The ministers meeting urged responsible and careful treatment of all food, emphasizing a plan to reduce waste.

While hundreds of millions starve, developed countries face rising cases of diet-related illnesses linked to too much (highly processed) food, even as world food prices hit a record high last February according to the FAO. According to the agency, grain prices in 2011 were 23 percent higher than in 2010.

Citing a disconnect from our food, especially in developed countries, Graziano da Silva says consumers have lost “grandmother’s knowledge on how to cook things,” further compounding the issue of just how important education about food is. “We teach people everything including how to drive, why not teach people what and how to eat?”

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Image: APM Alex

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.