Coming food crisis
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Research Center in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/oct/14/un-global-food-crisis-warning
On the one hand, more than a billion people are encouraged to consume too much of the wrong foods and become obese, while on the other hand, there is a scourge of hunger and nearly a billion people are severely malnourished.
We ought to be able to solve this problem.
Presently, there is theoretically enough food on the planet to provide each person with 3,500 calories per day, which is 1,000 calories more than necessary. But the problem is distribution: monumental waste of food that is discarded in the fields or at sea, or is thrown away by rich consumers; the diversion of human food to livestock feed; and the burning of good food as biofuels for cars and so-called ‘green energy’. And all of this industrial commodity production is carried out at the expense of the environment and the livelihoods of people who depend on the land and coastal waters. http://practicalaction.org/global-food-crisis-2
Drill, baby, drill!
More energy needed for crop production, storage and delivery.
Genetically engineered crops.
increasing water consumption for irrigation--watering the fields.
And all this is going to waste--30% of it!
What can we do to reduce energy consumption in a sensible way?
America’s energy dependence.
Humanity . . . wasted
Recent spikes in food prices have led to increasing concern about global food shortages and the apparent need to increase agricultural production. Surprisingly little discussion has been devoted to the issue of food waste. We found that US per capita food waste has progressively increased by ~50% since 1974. Food waste now accounts for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and ~300 million barrels of oil per year. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0007940
A study revealed that Americans throw away 40% of the food supply annually, a 50% increase since the 1970s that totals roughly $165 billion annually. The average American family of four throws away $2,275 each year in food alone. Even a 15% reduction in losses in the US food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans a year, and almost 20 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/whopping-wastefulness-ame_n_1829137.html
Where is food wasted?
Avoidable food waste
A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (Gustavsson, et al., 2011) reported that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, amounting to as much as 1.2 billion metric tonnes annually. This also inevitably means that huge amounts of the resources used in food production are used in vain, and that the greenhouse gas emissions caused by production of food that gets lost or wasted are also emissions in vain.
Overall, on a per capita basis, much more food is wasted in the industrialized world than in developing countries. We estimate that the per capita food waste by consumers in Europe and North America is 95-115 kg/year, while this figure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South/Southeast Asia is only 6-11 kg/year. http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e00.pdf
“We have a cheap food policy in America. When things are cheap, people don’t care so much about wasting it.” http://www.aolnews.com/2010/10/02/study-american-food-waste-is-a-huge-energy-drain/
Research shows that energy consumption can be reduced by around 50 percent by the adoption of traditional farming and following a healthier diet pattern. The energy required to produce junk and processed foods is much more than what is used to produce staple foods. If Americans reduced their junk food consumption it would affect fuel consumption in a major way and also help in improving their health. http://www.ecofriend.com/eating-junk-food-threatens-environment.html
The overall cost of all this loss easily totals hundreds of billions of dollars. Simply thinking more about conserving food could make a big difference. Unlike our ancestors, most of us aren’t involved in producing our own food. We just buy it from the store. That distances us from the work that it takes to make food and, therefore, its value. Many people don’t understand that leftovers can be saved or frozen. A surprising number think it actually goes bad at the end of a meal! Simply adjusting the way we think about food could make us try harder to conserve it. http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/wasted-food/
A lot of food for thought.