Food Waste

I was glad to see that Ensia framed food waste as an environmental problem, rather than a ‘feed the world’ problem. If you aren’t throwing out that half an order of fries, it means it’s not getting produced and wasting inputs. It doesn’t magically reappear in Ethiopia.


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About Marc Brazeau

Free lance cultural attaché. Writing at REALFOOD.ORG.

3 responses to “Food Waste”

  1. Stephen le Roux (@stephleroux) says :

    I agree that the fries that you do not waste are unlikely to reach anyone in Ethiopia. Nonetheless, and although this may seem tenuous, there are linkages between changes in your consumption and changes in the consumption of Ethiopians through world food prices. If many people consume fewer fries, fast food outlets will need to buy fewer potatoes. Lower demand for potatoes will reduce the price of potatoes. If, for example, Ethiopians imported potatoes then they would be able to import more at the lower prices. Reality is somewhat more complex but the example helps to illustrate that a positive change in one part of the world can have positive impact on a seemingly unrelated part of the world. Therefore, I believe that food waste is both an environmental problem as well as a ‘feed the world’ problem. And reducing food waste is something we can ALL do.

    • Marc Brazeau says :

      That’s very tenuous. In your potato example, what’s more likely is that after a small drop in price, supply will drop, keeping prices stable. The cost of producing potatoes isn’t all that elastic. If the price drops to low, Americans farmers stop producing potatoes and switch to a more profitable crop, they don’t chase the Ethopian potato market.

      There certainly are examples on the margin, where addressing food waste can address hunger. The work of groups like DC Central Kitchen is a great example. But by and large reducing food waste won’t address hunger in any meaningful way. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, it just means that when people reject innovations in agriculture that they are uncomfortable with, saying that we already produce more than enough food to feed the world is not the meaningful objection that they think it is.

  2. Thitherwards says :

    Wasting food is the worst thing one would do, instead give it to needy! Please read this and comment:

    Waste NO Food!!

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