The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation declares today as World Food Day.
With governments and international institutions casting around for solutions to feeding the ever-growing world population, the focus this year is on “healthy food systems”.
Enough food is already produced to feed the world. But the problem is that much of it is wasted. The answer is not to continually intensify animal agriculture, confining livestock to factory farms. This only makes the problem worse. It adds to the waste we already generate.
For example, for every 100 food calories of edible crops fed to livestock, just 30 calories is returned in the form of meat and milk. This is a 70% loss.
Our research shows that the meat equivalent of 50 million chickens, 1.5 million pigs and 100,000 beef cattle is wasted every year by UK households. We also calculate the retail sector, in fresh meat alone, wastes annually the meat equivalent of 16 million chickens, 400,000 pigs and 50,000 beef cattle. The annual estimates for the hospitality sector are just as shocking. They come in at the equivalent of around 6 million chickens, 150,000 pigs and 20,000 beef cattle.
World Food Day is dedicated this year to Sustainable Food Systems. With a reported one billion people in the world undernourished, such farming methods are needed more than ever before.
If we want food systems that support our ever-growing population, we have to stop wasting food. We’re not just wasting meat, we’re wasting other food by feeding it to animals in intensive farms, who convert it inefficiently into meat and milk, when we could be feeding it directly to people.
We can build a sustainable food system by using simple common sense. We can feed appropriate food waste to pigs and poultry. Cattle and sheep can be farmed on the land. They convert plant life, which humans can’t eat, into meat and milk. We can stop feeding fish to intensively farmed animals. Instead, feed it to people.
We have to cut down on the terrible amount of food we waste. We have to end this scandal now.