A study, posted recently in the Agricultural Systems Journal, has shown that almost half of harvested crops worldwide (over 2 billion tons) are being lost through a combination of consumer waste and over-consumption.
In addition to this, livestock production amounts to 40 percent of the total harvested crop loss.
“In aggregate, all livestock consume 1.08 billion tons of feed, but produce just 240 million of meat, milk and eggs,” lead research Peter Alexander says. “The livestock also graze grassland and consume forage crops, which brings the total livestock inputs to 4 billion tons.”
Crop loss aside, we buy and serve more food than we can eat in this country. I’ve been guilty of this on many occasions, but have gradually scaled back in the amount of produce and groceries that I purchase for my family. I grew up in a household where food was a commodity. As I grew older, and made more money, I became overzealous with food. Perhaps I simply wanted to wash away the memories of there often being too little food on the table.
I’m not alone.
The study found that food consumption worldwide is generally in excess of nutritional requirements. The researchers conclude that the world population consumes around 10% more food than it needs. Combine that with another 10% that is thrown away, and that’s enough to feed 1/5 of the entire planet.
In Dan Jurafsky’s book “The Language of Food”, he writes of leftovers “The first printed use of the word I’ve seen was from an April 1882 issue of Our Continent, an American illustrated weekly. In it, a New Jersey writer explains why the concept of leftovers is so alien to Europeans, mocking herself and her compatriots for consistently buying and serving way too much food.”
From Our Continent: “The Frenchwoman finds at a market a division of every article of food into portions. The smallest practicable amount per head is for sale. This is offensive to the American mind.”
There are many reasons why we have obesity problems in this country. We still eat poorly and we live in a world of excess. That extends itself to our dinner table.
It’s time to scale things back. Perhaps if we did, the words World Hunger wouldn’t ring so loudly in our ears.