Food waste & factory farming

10 January 2013

The media today is full of stories surrounding the vast amount of food we waste.This is due to a new report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

According to the report, the reasons include: Poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation; 'imperfect' looking vegetables not being sold to consumers; and food companies throwing food away.

This shocking statistic highlights one of the greatest challenges facing us today:feeding a growing human population on finite land, water and energy resources. The fact is we are meeting this challenge - in terms of production, and could continue to do so, but we are wasting much of what we produce.

However, this waste is not limited to the reasons identified in the report. We also waste food by feeding it to industrially-reared livestock. Farm animals are fed a third of the world's cereal harvest. If that cereal were given directly to people, it would feed about 3 billion of us. In addition, 90% of the world's soya beans are fed to factory farmed animals.

Industrial livestock production involves feeding huge amounts of food that could be consumed by people, to confined animals.

Farm animals are now in direct competition with us for food. And the rise of industrial farming means that we are losing out.

For every six kg of plant protein such as cereals etc. fed to livestock, only one kg of protein on average is given back in the form of meat or other livestock products. In terms of food value, for every 100 food calories of edible crops fed to livestock, we get back just 30 calories in the form of meat and milk; a 70% loss.

Compassion CEO Philip Lymbery says: ""Factory farms are food factories in reverse; they waste it, not make it; and they waste valuable cropland in the process."

What can we do?

Philip says: "People don't have to choose between eating cereals or meat. Both can be produced far more effectively if farm animals are kept in ways that add to the world's food supply, rather than detract, as they do on factory farms. The industrial approach forces animals and people to compete for food in a way that ill-serves them both."

"We can produce enough to feed our growing population, we just have to stop wasting it. Reducing food waste and ending factory farming go hand-in-hand in ensuring a better and well-fed world for everyone, now and into the future."

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