Thursday, February 26, 2009

Food Waste - Western Society Should be Ashamed

How much food does your household waste that is prepared and not consumed? How much do you buy and then throw out without using each week? How much is prepared and wasted in restaurants and food halls?

These are serious issues relating to world food availability.

To add to this issue much of this dumped food around the world is then deposited in landfills, to produce methane gas and add to global warming. Relatively modest volumes go into composting or anaerobic digestion and similar options that can allow recycling of the organic residuals and save the mineral components for reuse, in further horticulture and agriculture.

I do not subscribe to the view that organic agriculture will feed the world.........but the addition of carbon to soil via waste recycled organics is a real benefit to all agriculture.

Read the article and media release.

Stop wasting food and ask your local government services to improve their performance.

In Australia a big change is occurring now, and will accelerate under a new carbon emissions scheme. Curiously, waste is included, agriculture and horticulture are not. And we will pay significantly for waste in the carbon emissions scheme.

There are many options available to do better, but often the major supermarkets are not trying too hard. Some are investigating the use of small in-vessel composting systems [], some others are using a Biobin [ see]. We see the latter as a very useful simple to deply option for many food handling sites, and strongly advocate the former for larger sites such as hotels and resorts. In Australia the coming CPRS will help drive this rethink of practices as waste is included from the beginning.


UN calls for food waste revolution
Report calls for global crackdown on food waste and expansion of organic farming to help tackle impending shortages

The world could easily feed its growing population if farmers, businesses and government's simply stepped up efforts to curtail food waste, according to a major new study from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report, which was published at last week's meeting of the UNEP Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya, warned that without "a green revolution" across the food industry the combination of population growth and climate change will lead to severe food shortages over the coming decades that could see food prices climb by between 30 and 50 per cent.

"We need a Green revolution in a Green Economy but one with a capital G", said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "We need to deal with not only the way the world produces food but the way it is distributed, sold and consumed, and we need a revolution that can boost yields by working with rather than against nature."

The report, entitled The Environmental Food crises: Environment's role in averting future food crises, calls on food producers, businesses and governments to prioritise efforts to cut food waste as the most effective means of addressing future shortages.

It found that up to 50 per cent of food produced in the US is wasted, while a third of food purchased in the UK is never eaten. Meanwhile, food losses in developing world are similarly high with an estimated 20 to 40 per cent of potential harvests lost as a result of pests and pathogens.

Moreover, 30m tonnes of fish are reportedly discarded at sea each year – enough to sustain a 50 per cent increase in fish farming and aquaculture production, which the UNEP calculates is needed to maintain per capita fish consumption at current levels by 2050 without increasing pressure on an already stressed marine environment.

"Over half of the food produced today is either lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain," said Steiner. "There is evidence within the report that the world could feed the entire projected population growth alone by becoming more efficient while also ensuring the survival of wild animals, birds and fish on this planet." The report calls for increased investment in agricultural R&D to help reduce waste during the production process, as well as increased efforts from government's to cut consumer food waste.

In addition, to targeting food waste the report calls for an end to agricultural subsidies, curtailing of the practice of using cereals to feed livestock, increased investment in developing second generation biofuels that do not impact on food supplies and improved water management regimes in drought affected areas.

It also calls for wider adoption of organic farming methods, citing a recent report by UNEP and the UN Conference on Trade and Development which studied 114 small-scale farms in 24 African countries and found that yields more than doubled where organic or near organic techniques were used.
"Simply ratcheting up the fertilizer and pesticide-led production methods of the 20th Century is unlikely to address the challenge", says Achim Steiner. "It will increasingly undermine the critical natural inputs and nature-based services for agriculture such as healthy and productive soils, the water and nutrient recycling of forests, and pollinators such as bees and bats."

The report warned that unless its recommendations are adopted up to 25 per cent of the world's food production could be lost by 2050 as a result of " environmental breakdown". For example, it said that the retreat of Himalayan glaciers as a result of climate change could put nearly half of Asia's cereal production at risk, while global water shortages could cut crop yields by 20 per cent.

In related news, UNEP released a second report which found that 40 per cent of civil wars fought since 1990 were a direct result of natural resource shortages, a situation that is likely to worsen as climate change accelerates. It warned that conflicts with a link to natural resources were twice as likely to relapse within five years as conflicts fought for other reasons, and called on the UN to take environmental and resource issues more seriously in its post-conflict planning.

This is very serious stuff ............but is anyone really listening?

The current economic woes around the world really mean all should be reducing wasted food, as a simple economic measure.

But are we?

[partially sourced from Business Green by James Murray 23 Feb 2009]

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