The United Nations World Food Program (UNFAO) estimates there are 795 million undernourished people in the world. In fact, the agency classifies hunger and malnutrition as the number one risk to health globally.
Although there is significant media interest in acute hunger or starvation, most of the hungry people in the world suffer from daily undernourishment. Daily undernourishment occurs when victims must live on significantly less than the recommended daily calories for a healthy life. The body compensates for daily undernourishment by slowing down physical and mental activities, which impacts victims’ ability to work and study. Malnourished children are often unable to keep up with their peers in school. Chronic hunger also affects the immune system making people more vulnerable to diseases.
Worldwide, most hungry people live in Africa and Asia and live in rural areas but the problem affects people from all continents and living in all environments.
There are many causes for hunger such as poverty, climate change, war, and poor agricultural practices. However, global food scarcity is not a cause of the hunger epidemic. Enough food is produced every year to provide all of the planet’s inhabitants with a healthy diet. Regrettably, the extra food that is produced is not reliably distributed to those in need.
Food waste occurs when food that is grown or produced is not consumed. This may be food that is never harvested from fields, food that spoils or is destroyed during transportation to market, food that is wasted during processing, food that is not sold and is thrown away, or food that is purchased and not consumed. At every stage in the food production process some food is wasted. In fact, it is estimated that 30% of the food produced worldwide is never consumed.
Food waste is a factor in world hunger and has significant environmental consequences. Decomposing food contributes to the production of methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas. In addition, when food is wasted all the resources that are used to produce that food are lost. Water, energy and environmental resources are all lost for no reason when food is thrown away.
Everyone can play a role in preventing food waste. Here are some simple things that you can do to reduce food waste:
- Plan your shopping: Make a list of things you need before you go shopping. Be careful when you buy anything while you are hungry, because you may buy more than you need.
- Check the expiration dates of foods, especially fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Make sure that you will use the food before it expires.
- Keep the refrigerator temperature between 1 and 5 degrees for longevity and freshness of food. Check the refrigerator and other places in the house where you keep the food every day, to make sure you eat first foods that have been there for a longer period of time.
- Put more food in the freezer. Frozen food will last longer. Even products like bread can be frozen so they last longer (To use dry or frozen bread, pour a few drops of water on the slices of bread and put them in the oven for five minutes. The bread will come out fresh and steamy.)
- Learn how to dry different foods so that you can eat them off-season.
- Plan with meals with your family. Determine how many people you need to cook before you start cooking.