banana tree Wally Gobetz/Flickr

Wasting Food in a Hungry World

Hunger is a complex problem, exacerbated by financial pressure, volatile commodity prices, natural disasters, and civil wars. Simple policies like investing in improved infrastructure and agricultural research in developing countries – not anti-wastage campaigns in rich countries – are the most efficient ways to fight malnutrition.

OTTAWA – One-quarter of all the food in the world is lost each year, owing to inefficient harvesting, inadequate storage, and wastage in the kitchen. Halve that waste, and the world could feed an extra billion people – and make hunger yesterday’s problem.

The extent of food loss is particularly galling in view of a new global study on food security from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. According to the FAO, 57 developing countries have failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by this year. One in every nine people on the planet – 795 million in all – still goes to sleep hungry.

Of course, there has also been remarkable progress: over the last 25 years, the world has fed an extra two billion people, and – for all the 57 failures – the developing world as a whole has almost halved its hunger rate. But the challenge is to sustain the progress: by 2050, demand for food will have nearly doubled. One reason is that by then the world will have added another two billion mouths to feed; a second reason will be the growing appetite of a surging new middle class.

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