Some startling statistics were released during World Food
Day. There are nearly 842 million people worldwide who are chronically
But, according to the United Nations, if we collectively
work together to reduce food waste, there would be enough food to feed up to two
million additional people.
Food waste in North America and Western Europe combined
equals more than 220 pounds per person each year.
In Africa, that plummets to about 22 pounds per year,
according to José Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and
Agriculture Organization. Overall, that amounts to 1.3 billion tons of food lost
“We could feed all the people in the world without producing
more food,” the official said.
During its World Food Day gathering in
Rome, some lifestyle tips were offered on how to reduce household food waste and
help create a more sustainable food system for the world. Tips included:
* Before hitting the grocery store,
take stock of what you need and stick to the grocery list. Refrain from
“over-purchasing.” And don’t go shopping when you’re hungry;
* Plan your meals for the week so you
know exactly what you need;
* Read dates carefully. The term “use
by” is a firm expiration date often found on meat and fish products that must be
consumed by the date shown. “Best before,” however, simply indicates that the
product will retain its freshness until said date. Products still are safe to
consume beyond the time-print;
* Serve smaller portions and let people
come back for seconds;
* Keep the fridge temperature between
33 and 41 degrees;
* Use your leftovers to make soups,
stocks and pies. Browning bananas can easily be turned into banana bread or
smoothies, while chicken carcasses make great flavorful homemade stocks. Slice
up overripe fruit and roast it in the oven for a quick, healthy snack. Stale
bread can be turned into croutons and excess rice made into fried rice. Just use
* Don’t bin leftovers. Put them in the
freezer. Often, soups and stews taste better after being frozen; and
* Donate non-perishables to
organizations and people who need them.
The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss is
taking this effort one step further at the University of Illinois.
The institute works with small-holder farmers in the
developing world to help preserve millions of metric tons of grains and oilseeds
lost each year to pests, disease, mishandling and other factors.
According to the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, about 30 million metric tons of corn, 20
million metric tons of wheat and nearly three million metric tons of soybeans —
with an aggregate value estimated at more than $14 billion — went to waste
worldwide in 2007, the latest year for which the organization has made data
The university has noted that the
amount of wheat and rice lost during that year could have satisfied the cereal
grain dietary needs of more than 380 million people.
Much of the loss occurs in developing
nations, which lack essential infrastructure, technology and training needed to
prevent spoilage and waste.
With the world population expected to grow by another two
billion people my mid-century and the limited availability of more arable to
grow food, these efforts are vital along with continued research into increasing