Food Wasted Across the Globe as 783 Million People Go Hungry

Apr 4, 2024

What To Do With Excess Food?

Thought Question: What can you do to reduce the amount of food waste you produce?

The world wasted a whopping 1.05 billion metric tons of food in 2022. And most of it came from individual households, both wealthy and poor, a new United Nations (UN) report found.  

The massive waste harms the environment. For instance, mountains of food get landfilled. The waste also squanders food at a time when 783 million people across the globe face chronic hunger because of lack of access to food.

“It is a travesty,” Clementine O’Connor, a co-author of the UN study, told The Associated Press (AP). “It doesn’t make any sense." The study's author said it's a complex problem, but it can be tackled through group efforts and planned action.

About 20% of all food is wasted. This is mostly because of reckless disregard, poor planning, or sometimes from a lack of access to refrigeration or storage, said the UN’s Food Waste Index report. The global cost of such waste is calculated at roughly $1 billion per year.  

Households account for 60% of that waste. Income of the household did not affect food waste. Rich households threw out just as much as poor ones. 

Experts say food waste should be a major concern because the production of food takes a toll on the planet. Tending to crops and raising animals uses water. It also produces greenhouse gas emissions. The latter leads to global warming. Thus, improved planning of food consumption and distribution could reduce climate change. 

But what is most distressing? Wasting food hurts disadvantaged people who cannot access enough of it. Fadila Jumare has studied food waste in Africa. Jumare told the AP that for humans, food waste means that less food is available to populations in need.

Based on the information in the infographic, the EPA’s best proposed solution for food waste is to _______. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. compost it
b. produce and consume only what's needed
c. throw it away
d. allow it to decompose naturally
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