“We Can Do Better Than This": How food waste is a true domino effect

Between 20 and 30 percent of all food produced globally is wasted, which means the greenhouse gases generated during production are a waste as well, according to Roger Thurow with the Auburn University Hunger Solutions Institute.

“The consequences then are on the availability of food and food prices are enormous, and they are some of the reasons why hunger and malnutrition continued to abide, to persist, to increase in our world today in 2022. What’s wrong with us? We can do better than this.”

And it’s not just the physical food being wasted; the nutritional quality can also decline during shipping.

“It’s been estimated up to around 40 percent of all the vitamins that were produced in those foods, dairy, animal source foods, vegetables are simply lost to the consumer. And that’s not just a tragedy, that is economic inefficiency that cannot be allowed to continue,” Dr. Webb states.

Dr. Patrick Webb, Professor of Food Policy at Tufts University, says developing countries have more waste caused by a lack of shipping and storage infrastructure.

“A large share of food loss and waste is happening after the farm at the point of post-harvest handling, storage, processing, distribution through markets but inefficient markets, there is a lack of refrigeration, there’s a lack of good roads-- everything that conspires to make a perishable food go bad before it reaches the consumer.”

In comparison, high-income countries see only 1-2 percent loss in the food supply chain, but Dr. Tim Fox, Chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Working Group, says the refrigerated “cold chain” is not sustainable: “From a sustainability point of view, all this equipment is used an enormous amount of energy, about 17% of the global electricity supply is used for refrigeration, which is a staggering number that produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases.”

He says biofuels, electric vehicles, and renewable solar and wind energy can help these systems transition to a lower carbon footprint.


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