The coronavirus is believed to be posing a serious threat to food security and nutrition as the pandemic’s ramifications have threatened both economic and physical access to food. Indeed the food security of the world was already under increasing pressure due to various factors, including conflicts, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.
However, a recent UN report, which revealed a chocking fact that the world has wasted a billion tonnes of food last year, should take the world by surprise.
The report, which was described by its authors as the most comprehensive assessment to date found waste, was about double the previous best estimate.
According to the report, the food discarded in homes alone was 74kg per person each year on average around the world. The UN report also includes data on food waste in restaurants and shops, with 17 per cent of all food dumped. Some food is lost on farms and in supply chains as well, meaning that overall a third of food is never eaten.
The report also revealed that food waste is not a problem that is mostly associated with rich countries only as levels of waste were found surprisingly similar in all nations.
The damage of the waste food can even extend to the global environment security as food waste and loss is responsible for nearly 10 per cent of the emissions driving the climate emergency.
With such details on the table, the food waste problem can’t be seen as a problem of some rich countries, as it is evidently more serious than anyone thought before. Today, social messages for individuals to avoid food waste should be amended to include the real aspect of the problem.
Reducing food waste would not only salvage some hungry people somewhere, but it also will cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature, and save money at a time of global recession due to pandemic.
Covid-19 is estimated to have dramatically increased the number of people facing acute food insecurity in 2020. World Food Programme estimates that 149 million people were acutely food insecure across 79 countries in 2019. The pandemic was projected to bring the total number of acutely food insecure people to 272 million in the same countries by the end of 2020.
Now, we have to realise that stopping some undesirable consuming habits and readjusting the food production and distribution chain could save millions of hungry people and help in preserving environment.
Of course, actions at the level of world governments are needed, but still individual action is important and so is the spreading of the awareness of the real size of a problem that has for long been underestimated.