Thursday, March 06, 2008

A waste of good food

The Independent on Sunday reported that Britain is throwing away half of all the food produced on farms.

About 20 million tons of food is thrown out each year: equivalent to half of the food import needs for the whole of Africa. Some 16 million tons of this is wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing. Much of the rest is thought to be destroyed between the farm field and the shop shelf.

Japan pledged more than 300 million yen in food aid for Burundi, in Africa, where malnutrition runs at 44 per cent. The food thrown away in the UK last year would meet the equivalent of Burundi's shortages more than 40 times over.
The United Nation's World Food Programme has admitted it might have to ration food aid in response to rocketing global food prices that have soared by more than 75 per cent since their lows of 2000, jumping by more than a fifth last year alone, prompting riots in some countries.

The chief executive of FareShare, the national food charity, said:

"Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people do not have access to food in general, and good-quality food specifically, while at the same time millions of tons of perfectly fine food are being disposed of. In the UK alone, the extent of food poverty is staggering, as millions of people with low or no income find it harder to access affordable, nutritious food."

Estimates that the world's population will rise by 30 per cent over the next 50 years to around 8.5 billion have raised the spectre of a global food shortage too big for farmers to meet, Lord Haskins , a former government adviser on rural affairs and chairman of Northern Foods , said:

"If consumers ate a bit less and wasted a bit less you'd help to solve the problem. If the world was vegetarian then you'd solve the problem completely."

One-third of wheat grown globally is fed to livestock reared to end up on the dinner table.

More importantly though was the comment from a food policy professor at City University , Tim Lang , who said:

"Waste is a fundamental part of the food economy and it will be hard to get rid of. I do not see how simply appealing to morals will do it."

It is the economics of capitalism that places the need for profit before the needs of people .

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