We recently observed World Food Day, a global event dedicated to increasing awareness of hunger and malnutrition and designed to encourage and recognize initiatives that increase food security.
If you caught any of the coverage, you probably heard some disturbing statistics: About a third of all the food that is grown in the world every year is simply thrown away. That's a billion tons of food, worth about $1 trillion. All that wasted food would be enough to end world hunger...4 times over. Unfortunately, we can’t just airlift leftovers into starving nations! Not only is all that wasted food not helping them, it's actually hurting us.
What Does Our Food Really Cost?
Food production and distribution is a significant source of environmental pollution and contributes to global warming, through the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and carbon-based fuels. It also consumes more than 90% of the world’s fresh water supply, a commodity that is becoming frighteningly scarce.
There are less quantifiable costs as well. Animals that are raised for food often spend their lives in less-than-humane conditions, enduring suffering that many consumers are finding increasingly difficult to ignore or accept.
Obviously, we have to eat - and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But when we throw food away, we incur all of those costs but reap no benefit. And then, just to add insult to injury, all that food sitting in our landfills creates greenhouse gasses as it decomposes.