Recently, Italy introduced a new law designed to reduce food waste which is being celebrated by farmers and restaurant owners as it simplifies the donation of excess food that ends up becoming food (or field) waste. Approximately 100 Million tonnes of food across the EU is wasted each year. (Source: European Commission) That amount of food would sufficiently feed at least at least another 100 Million people annually (as the amount of food a person needs in a year varies between 0.5 and 1 tonne depending upon diet, weight, etc.). This is just in the EU. In the US, recorded food waste exceeds 30 Million tonnes, and is probably much higher. (Source: Feeding America) That’s at least another 30 Million people that could be completely fed. Putting these numbers together, and assuming the average amount of food consumed by a person a year is 0.75 tonnes (and not 1), that’s about 175 Million completely satiated. There are almost 800 Million undernourished people in the world. If we assumed that they were surviving on only half the food they needed (which is not reasonable, as that’s barely sustenance, and a lot of these undernourished people are in developed countries and still eating enough to work), this says that the recorded food waste in 1/7th of the world’s population could cut the number of undernourished people in the world by half! By Half!
Italy is only the second country in the EU to adopt such laws (following a similar move by France earlier this year – Source: The Guadian), so let’s hope that at least in the UK, sanity reigns. Because in North America, and in the US in particular, it does not. It’s illegal in many cities to feed the homeless (Sources: NPR and MIC), even if the food is not passed its expiration date and untouched, or you are a Pastor (Source: The Daily Signal)!. In some states, game meat donated to shelters is burned (Source: Daily Caller). And even if you can donate food without getting fined and arrested, and someone gets sick because, while it was still good when you donated, by the time it was prepared and eaten it wasn’t (or it was contaminated when you received it with e-Coli and you didn’t know), then you can get sued for millions of dollars, so why take the risk?
Food reserves have not recovered from the all time low, over 800 Million people, including almost one third of children in developing countries, are malnourished and the two richest economies in the world (the US and the EU) are collectively wasting enough food to solve over HALF of the problem. All this in a time when agriculture produces 17% more calories per person per day than it did 30 years ago. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kCal per day, which is 30% more calories than an average person needs. Instead, the cost of staples is rising, access to food by the lower class and malnourished is falling, and, because of stupid, stupid laws made by stupid, stupid lawmakers, the situation is getting worse. When it should be 10 times better!
As per our research from four years ago, there is no excuse for wasting more than 4% of food. (That’s still too much, but the 100% solution is always difficult to achieve right away. And when the 90% could be achieved tomorrow, let’s start there!) Not only would sanity (and laws mandating food donations and feeding the homeless instead of laws preventing this) reduce costs by $150 Billion and methane emissions by 22.5% (as rotting food makes up 25%), but the US would NOT have anyone undernourished! (14% of households in the US are food insecure! Fourteen Percent! The US is the richest country in the world, how can this be???)
Bravo France and Italy for finally doing something right! Let’s hope the rest of the EU follows suit so at least some people won’t go hungry!