Home ACTIVISM 795 millions of people are suffering because of hunger

795 millions of people are suffering because of hunger

In the world 795 millions of people are suffering because of hunger: an inhabitant out of nine on the Earth doesn’t have enough food (FAO). Significant the consequences: a malnourished man cannot work, a child who does not eat enough can not learn at school and doesn’t grow correctly. In the 21st century, hunger and malnutrition cause more damage to human health than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis all together. And yet ….

Yet, every year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food (1/3 of the total intended for human consumption) end up in the trash.

The only food waste in Italy has an economic value of around 13 billion euro per year.

According to FAO, in industrialized countries, 222 million tons of food are thrown, a figure similar to the entire sub-Saharan Africa’s production of food (230 million tons). In the United States of America 40% of the food produced ends up in landfills. In Europe are wasted an average of 180 kg of food per capita per year. The country where you waste the most is the Netherlands (579 kg per capita per year); Greece is where the waste is lower (44 kg per capita per year, perhaps because of the economic crisis). In Britain, 6.7 million tons of still perfectly consumable food end up as waste, for an annual value of 10 billion pounds. In Italy are wasted 149 kg of food per person (again, with the economic crisis, food waste has been reduced greatly).

Two reasons from this facts: on the one hand the losses which occur upstream of the food chain, mainly in the process of planting, growing, harvesting, processing, storage and processing agricultural raw; on the other hand what occurs during the industrial processing, distribution and final consumption. In addition domestic waste must be considered (such as food purchased and also expire in the fridge or pantry).

World hunger is a serious problem that has been included in the Millennium Goals targets all countries have set for 2030 (a first step would have to be reached in 2015). Situation has dramatically worsened in recent decades: from 1974 to the present food waste in the world increased by 50%. Billions of tons of food that end up in the dustbin.

Wasting food also means wasting energy and raw materials that have been used to produce that food. Starting from the water. 70% of drinking water resources are used for agriculture and livestock. Wasting so much food means is equivalent of throwing a quantity of drinking water that could be used to reduce water shortages in many countries of the world. According to research by the University of Naples, food waste in Italy will cause a loss of 1,226 million cubic meters of water (used for the production of food that is then thrown away without being consumed). With this amount would be possible to satisfy the demand of 19 million Italians (and yet in many parts of the Bel Paese the water is rationed). But waste have a significant relevance even on emissions: to produce food products that end up in the trash without being emitted into the atmosphere are consumed 24.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. To these are added the CO2 emissions for the transport of products that do not serve any (EUR 14.3 million tons of CO2).

Even countries “virtuous” in many areas, when it comes to food waste have their limits: in Sweden, for example, every year, the food industry and distribution cause the loss of nearly a quarter of a million tons of food. Family throw in the trash 25% of the food purchased. A waste that Kristina Liljestrand, from Chalmers Tekniska Högskola and winner, in 2015, the Renova environmental award with her research on reducing food waste, suggested to companies in the food chain specific tools “that can both reduce food waste the environmental impact of food transport “. “It ‘s difficult to understand the true extent of food waste in Sweden,” she said. It is as if a line of 23,000 trucks full of food (430 km long) to take them to the dump.

According to Liljestrand it would be enough “a retouching of logistic systems, to ensure that the food maintains a good quality and lasts for as long as possible when it reaches the shop”. Her study demonstrated nine steps that could be changed to improve the logistics of food: “And the collaboration ‘necessary to create effective systems that go from beginning to end, so that food products reach the shops in time”. Instruments such as the load factor (ie if the space on pallets, in crates and trucks is used well or not), or the proportion of intermodal transport (where road transport is combined rail and maritime transport) and many others.

In many other countries (and Italy is among them) the problem of food waste remains unresolved: a phenomenon that raises questions not only on the efficiency of modern international managed by multinational firms but also on consumption imbalances in the world and on social inequalities in spite of the promises made by global leaders continue to exist. Indeed, according to latest FAO data, it seems to be increasing.

C.Alessandro Mauceri



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