Buy more, eat less
Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint - this is the name of the UN campaign aimed at reducing food waste. The goal of the campaign is to cut the amount of food discarded by producers and consumers that currently ranges from 30 to 50 percent of all the food produced.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annually a trillion dollars' worth of food is thrown away worldwide. France-Presse reported about the program developed by two United Nations organizations.
Of four billion tons of food produced, approximately 1.3 billion tons is lost or discarded as unusable. If we consider that every seventh person in the world is starving (according to the FAO), such an attitude towards food is extremely wasteful from an economic point of view. In addition, it is harmful to the environment because food production requires 550 billion cubic meters of water annually. Meanwhile, there is a threat of shortage of this critical resource.
Most of the food is wasted before it gets directly to the consumer. The call to reduce food losses is primarily addressed to major companies involved in food production, as well as retailers whose stores produce huge amounts of waste from perishable goods.
"Pravda.Ru" talked to the co-chair of the International Environmental Group "Ecodefense" Vladimir Slivyak about relevance of this issue for the world and for Russia in particular. "Indeed, there is a problem, and this problem is very serious. Perhaps now we do not notice it very much in Russia, but it will be increasingly important in the foreseeable future because of the changing global situation. Now we see a serious climate change, and one of the consequences of the climate change is the reduction of food resources. Fewer crops will grow (in Russia it is already happening), which means that production of various food resources will decline, and this is a very serious problem. This, of course, is accompanied by a significant population growth in the world. There are more people, more food is required, and we will be increasingly less capable of producing it," said the expert.
Meanwhile, according to the Director-General of the FAO Jose Graziano da Silva, in the industrial regions manufacturers and retailers discard products suitable for consumption, and the amount wasted would be sufficient to feed 870 million people around the world who are currently experiencing chronic hunger. 95 percent of food in developing countries is wasted due to poor management and lagging infrastructure. In developed countries, the main "enemy" of food is the existing quality standards. When selling food, manufacturers and retailers give priority to the appearance of products, because, roughly speaking, it is more difficult to sell a wrinkled apple than a glossy one.
According to statistics cited by Vedomosti, with reference to the FAO, food waste in Europe and North America ranges from 95 to 115 kilograms per person per year. In the UK approximately 30 percent of harvest does not reach the stores, and mostly products are suffering because of inadequate appearance. Portion sizes in European restaurants are another example of food waste. According to the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, the average portion size in a British restaurant exceeds consumers' needs. Approximately 17 percent of food from restaurant tables goes to waste. "Hunger and food shortages may not be such an obvious problem today, at least in Russia, but if we look at the poorest parts of Africa, we will see an entirely different situation, and the problem there is far more serious," emphasized Vladimir Spivyak. "In any case, we will also be affected by this problem, and its importance will be increasing. UN is trying to mitigate the effects of the impending issue. We should be thinking about solving it today. It can be postponed for a while, and the more successfully we act, the longer it will be postponed. But in the end, we would face the problem of hunger and need to take serious steps. I think that all this would happen in this century, perhaps even in its first half."
People who care about the future of the planet need to know how much depends on them. Indeed, as noted by the FAO and UNEP, most consumers are used to buying excessive amounts of food and then discarding a third of their purchases. The UN recommends making shopping lists to avoid unexpected purchases and ignore advertising that encourages buying more food. You can also ask for smaller portions in restaurants and buy fruit and vegetables of unusual form, since such products stay on the shelves longer and are later sent to waste. In addition, the campaign organizers urged not to pay attention to the shelf life of products indicated on the packaging, because it turns out that very few manufacturers really make an effort to calculate the shelf life of the product. Most often, according to representatives of the UN, the shelf life of products is much longer than marked on the packaging.