Food shortage – is it really a problem?

By Natasa

Here in Scandinavia we don’t lack food, we don’t lack roof over our heads and we don’t lack clothes. Life is quite comfortable in Scandinavia.

We have so much, but we still buy and buy. We throw out food that could be eaten and things that still can be used. We are literally flooded by food products and no wander that so much of it goes to waste.

On the other side of the world people are literally starving.

Today I read an article in National Geographic Denmark about how many tons of food gets wasted in Western Europe. The numbers presented are no less then disturbing.

About 80 million tons of food is thrown away in Europe annually. 42 % is thrown out by households, 39% is lost during the production process, 14% is thrown out in restaurants and kitchens and 5% is lost in transport.

According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of UN) each year 670 million tons of food products go to waste in industrialized countries.

The amazing fact mentioned in the article is that in 2007 1, 4 billion hectares of land, an area larger than Canada, was being plowed to grow crops, which wouldn’t be eaten at all. 

Food waste is largely caused by expiration date marking on products, which often aren’t the best indicator of food quality. Supermarkets will rather throw out the products close to expiration date then to set the prices down, as that would undermine the sale of new articles. On the other side large commercial food producers plant 10% more than they need. What happens is that excess crops aren’t being sold to avoid falling market prices. Large supermarkets usually buy more products to avoid shortages and the consequence is that tons of foods go to waste. Consumers do their share of wasting food by buying more that can be eaten.

We don’t’ lack food at all. Food is being wasted, nature destroyed by garbage and pollutants used to maintain large quantities of crops just to maintain the business as usual.

Western countries are concerned about this large waste of food, but mostly as a loss in economy. It is estimated that there is 84f2 million people in the world who are literally starving and the market strategy is to withhold excess food just to maintain profitable market prices.

Some of the statistics mentioned in the article are that the food waste in Italy could feed all the undernourished peoples of Ethiopia or that food waste made in France could feed entire population of the Republic of Congo.

Next time you prop your refrigerator with food think about how much unnecessary waste you create. Small, yes even very small individual actions powered by conscious choices can make a difference. Think about organic food. Just some years ago not many considered buying organic food, today we see whole areas of supermarkets filled with different organic products.

Read more here


Nationa Geographic Danmark, nr 8, 1914 pp.53.

Related reading:

Food shortages could be most critical world issue by mid-century


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