The United Nations estimates that approximately one third of all the food produced in the world is wasted every year. That’s enough to feed 2 billion people! At the same time, hunger and food insecurity are still major global problems, with millions of people suffering from chronic undernourishment.
So what’s the connection between these two? And what can be done to reduce food waste and help address hunger and malnutrition?
Causes of food waste
There are many causes of food waste, but some of the most common include:
Excess production: This happens when farmers produce more food than is needed, often due to overestimating demand. They are often forced to throw this food away, or to it to rot in the fields.
Post-harvest losses: This occurs when food gets lost between the time it is harvested and when it reaches consumers. Poor storage facilities, transportation issues, or spoilage can cause this.
Processing and packaging: A lot of food waste happens during processing and packaging, as there can be considerable amounts of trimming and rejected products.
Consumer behavior: In developed countries, consumers themselves waste a great deal of food. This includes buying more food than necessary and then throwing it away, as well as cooking too much food and not eating leftovers.
How food waste contributes to food insecurity
Food waste is a major problem because it contributes to food insecurity. When large amounts of food are wasted, it means that there is less available for people who need it, leading to hunger and malnutrition.
According to the FAO, about 795 million people around the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life. This problem is only compounded by the fact that the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050, which means that we will need even more food to feed everyone.
Solutions to reduce and address food waste and food insecurity
There are many things that individuals can do to reduce food waste and help address the issue of food insecurity. Some of these include:
Planning meals in advance: This can help you only buy the amount of food you need, which will reduce the amount of waste.
Checking your pantry and fridge before shopping: This will help you avoid buying duplicates of what you already have at home.
Only cooking the amount of food you need: This will help reduce the amount of leftovers that get thrown away.
Eating leftovers: This is a great way to reduce food waste, as it means you are making use of food that would otherwise be thrown away.
Donating excess food: If you have food that you know you won’t be able to eat, consider donating it to a local food bank or soup kitchen.
Composting: This is a great way to reduce the amount of organic waste that goes to the landfill.
Educating others about food waste: One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to educate others about the problem and its impact on food insecurity.
In addition to individual solutions, there are also many things that communities can do to reduce food waste and help address the issue of food insecurity. Some of these include:
Creating community gardens: This can help make use of excess land and produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the community.
Organizing food drives: This is a great way to collect excess food and donate it to those in need.
Setting up community composting programs: This can reduce the amount of organic waste that goes into the landfill.
From causes to effects, this article has aimed to explore the relationship between food insecurity and food waste in order to provide an understanding of the issue. In doing so, it has also outlined some potential solutions that individuals and communities can implement to reduce food waste and help address the issue of food insecurity.