“I’m full.” A phrase that many Americans have said at least once in their lives. But this phrase has long-term consequences in terms of food waste and the environment. So let’s talk about it.
Nearly one-third of the food that is produced in the world is lost or wasted due to one reason or another. Yet, the United Nations estimates that one in nine people in the world do not have access to sufficient food to lead a healthy life. More die from hunger everyday.
Food wastage, which includes both food loss and food waste, is not only morally irresponsible, but also causes severe damage to our world.
Food Waste’s Impact on the Environment
The later food is wasted along the chain, the greater is its environmental impact as we have to consider the energy and resources used in processing, transporting, storing, and cooking food.
Food waste can end up in landfills, which produce large amounts of methane. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that can absorb infrared radiation and heat up the earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change.
Moreover, with 70% of water use going into agriculture, food waste represents the waste of freshwater and groundwater resources. It is estimated that the volume of water roughly three times the volume of Lake Geneva is used to produce food that is not eaten. For example, when you throw out 1 kilogram of beef, you are wasting 50,000 liters of water that was used to produce the meat, just as 1000 liters of water is wasted when you pour one glass of water down the drain.
In terms of land use, about one-third of the world’s total agricultural land area is used to grow food that is wasted. Millions of gallons of oil are also wasted to produce food that is not eaten every year.