Start A Petition

Food Waste, Overeating Threaten Global Security

Green Lifestyle  (tags: eco-friendly, conservation, environment, greenliving, protection, Sustainabililty, food, garden, green, organic, sustainable, ecosystems, health, healthy, obesity )

- 1641 days ago -
Everyone knows that we eat too much -- we're bombarded with warnings about the obesity epidemic every day. But all those extra calories are not only a threat to our waistlines; they're a threat to global security as well.

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Michael O (176)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 10:42 am
Everything that well-off people in the developed world eat — or even worse, throw away — is food that isn't feeding the impoverished and hungry of the developing world. Pope Francis has equated food waste with "stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry."

In 2011, 1.3 billion tonnes of food, or about one third of all the food produced globally, was lost or wasted annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. In developed countries, the average person wastes about 100 kilograms of food every year.

“Some the food is lost during the production stage to pests, some is lost during harvesting, some is lost during processing, some is lost in storage. But a considerable amount is lost in people’s homes," explains Tim Benton, a professor of population ecology at the University of Leeds.

"In the U.K., we end up throwing away 20 to 30 per cent of the food that we buy. And when you add it all up, it’s quite frightening," he says. "The waste that we throw away in Europe and North America is about equal to all of the food that sub-Saharan Africa produces.”

Prof. Benton, who also holds the title of U.K. Champion for Global Food Security, discusses the situation in a feature interview with Michael Enright on CBC radio's The Sunday Edition this week.

And he says that food waste is only one problem. Overeating is another.

Research shows that based on average weight gain through adulthood, people are consuming 20 to 30 per cent too many calories. So eating a healthier, more balanced diet would not only help tackle the obesity epidemic, it would also take as much as a third of the caloric demands out of the global food chain.

“If everyone in the world chose to live like your average North American, it would require four Earths to produce all the necessary food,” Prof. Benton says.

You might not notice it on your grocery bill, but pressure on the global food chain is having an impact.

Between 2006 and 2008, the average world prices for food skyrocketed, including these staples:

■ Rice 217 per cent
■ Wheat 136 per cent
■ Corn 125 per cent
■ Soybeans 107 per cent

Food shortages have already caused massive social and political unrest, contributing to revolutions that toppled governments in Haiti and Madagascar in 2008 and 2009, after the global price spikes. And the riots in Tunisia that triggered the Arab Spring were initially dismissed by the government as just another round of protests over the rising cost of bread, which had sporadically hit the country for decades.

The World Food Programme estimates that 870 million people worldwide do not have access to enough food to be healthy.

And with the global population expected to increase 50 per cent, or three billion people, by 2050, Prof. Benton warns that it's only going to get worse.

“We’re going to have all those extra mouths to feed," he says. "We’re going to have less land on which to produce food because of all those extra people, and our ability to produce it will be further hampered by climate change.”


Roseann d (178)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 11:13 am
Those stupid gluttony shows on the Travel Channel don't help. And what a stupid premise for a show. Only in America!

Past Member (0)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 1:26 pm
Overpopulation is and will be our demise.

Past Member (0)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 1:27 am
That's one way to look at a distribution problem, but it probably will not help resolve any problems.

cecily w (0)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 3:28 am
Natasha Salgado posted, "Overpopulation is and will be our demise". Natasha is right.

Projections for 2050's global human population have increased from 9.3 billion to 9.6 billion in only the past few MONTHS. Until 95% of women everywhere (and their male partners) have the will and the means to stop at "Two or Fewer", other measures to prevent "food insecurity" will only be stopgap. (Even in the U.S., only slightly more than 70% complete their families with two or fewer children--including zero.)

Back in the late 1960s/early 1970s there was a "Green Revolution"; under which Develeoped Countries helped Less Developed Countries improve their agricultural yields. Guess what happened. LDC births shot up. Yes, we must keep trying to relieve global hunger and food waste is appalling, But human population growth is the cause, not obesity. (For the record, I weigh less than 90 pounds.)

Howard Crosse (21)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 5:57 am
Over eating is clearly wrong but in my opinion it is the food that we simply throw away that is the greatest waste of all. I try very hard not to throw away as little as I can. We try to only buy what we will eat. This still leaves inevitable waste of course. Things like peelings/cores go to the local pig sanctuary, suitable food scraps are fed to our dog and waste fat, trimmed from what little meat we eat, helps to feed the birds. All in all we end up throwing away very little that could nourish another living being.

. (0)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 7:09 am
Very informative article, Micheal. Overeating is bad for your health, too. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 8:07 am

Ben O (171)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 10:19 am
Well, I can't afford to waste any food. And, overeating...? -Don't think so...

Franshisca Dearmas (89)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 11:04 am
Noted. TY Michael

Robert O (12)
Sunday November 24, 2013, 1:59 pm
You can blame most of the first world countries (hello USA!) and it's wasteful, indifferent citizens for that for that. Overpopulation also plays a role since there's more people to feed and not enough food to do it. There would be more food though if the waste was stopped altogether.
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Green Lifestyle

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.