The cold, hard numbers are hard to look at, but people still need to be aware of them. Consumers are losing up to one third of their food from farm to fork to trash bin. Just to crunch some numbers in your head, 24% of the calories that are grown, created, or produced for human consumption throughout the world are wasted. Getting food from the farm straight to a consumer’s fork is also what uses up 50% of United States land and a whopping 80% of all of the fresh water that’s consumed in the US. (NRDC Issue Paper) The numbers are no different for the majority of developing countries.

So, 30% of the world’s food goes uneaten, which converts to a massive amount of billions of dollars each year that goes in the trash because of that wasted food. That’s not to mention the fact that all that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills. It’s rated as the largest component in solid waste, as well as a large portion of methane emissions. (World Resources Institute)

It’s estimated that by the year 2050, the world will need 1,314 trillion kcal in order to survive and keep up with the demands of each citizen. The question then becomes: how do you reduce food loss? The answer has to be on an individual basis. It becomes increasingly more difficult to try to pull it off on a grand scale without proper investments backing it and without it being a known subject. On an individual scale, on the other hand, you’re able to grow your own food locally, ensuring that all of the food that local growers provide is accounted for and delved out to those who can pay for it or those who are in need of it (since it’s on an individual basis, the situation does differ). (Food Loss and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

The simple fact is that people need to come together to reduce food loss on individual scales that, added up, make up a noticeable difference in the way the agricultural and food system works currently. However, citizens with no power can only take it so far without governments, businesses, and consumers that can invest getting involves. When those particular subjects are also added into the mix, then a genuine reduction in food loss can even be discussed. What needs to happen is the government throughout each nation in the world needs to do a comprehensive, analytical study on the losses of food because of the current agricultural system. From there, the world can set international goals for food lost reduction, waste reduction, and more.

The current food system needs some freshening up that only the citizens of the world can help do something about. Businesses can follow suit, streamlining their own operations locally, which in turn reduces food loss and saves money for everyone involved. Consumers will be able to shop more wisely without having to waste food, and there will be more information readily available about when food goes bad, how to buy certain produce, and more. Each country needs to break out of its shell of thinking that a vegetable or fruit is healthy just because it looks especially fresh or tasty. On the contrary, it’s usually the ugly veggies and fruits that end up having the most nutritional value.

Growing and shopping locally, getting involved in personal urban farming, spreading the word, and trying as many ways you know about to reduce food loss will allow you to start the ripple in your community. That ripple could become a wave that causes a noticeable difference in your area, county, state, or even country – you never know what can happen when you try.


This article is part of a miniseries about problems in current agriculture.
Read the previous articles here: Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4