Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I throw away, you don't eat

Between yesterday and today, 219,000 people joined the dinner tables all around the world. Tomorrow, another 219,000 new world citizens will join us on this planet and another 219,000 the day after. They are born into a world that cannot feed them any more and that asks for higher and higher entry fees.

Until 2050, demand for food is expected to rise by 70%, says Oxfam in a new report published today. And within 20 years, global food prices could double as a result of climate change. The consequences look like this:

The EU has realized that it needs to act. At a food security conference organized by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) last week, Agriculture Commissioner Ciolos and Development Commissioner Piebalgs highlighted the responsibility that the EU has for food security in developing countries. The message is clear: agriculture in the global South has to become more efficient, more productive, more rewarding for the individual farmer and better governed through international, national, regional and local institutions. Sounds like an affair to be left to paper-producing bureaucrats.

But the help that the global North can give is not only about "capacity-building", it's not only about "technical support" from government to government. It starts with things as easy as reducing food waste. According to a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, a third of all products we buy are thrown away. But of course, demand for them drives prices up in the first place. Unless you are a trader of agricultural commodities, that should worry you.

Now, do I really need a luxury buffet for my XXth birthday that allows my guests a choice between 50 different kinds of food? Or could I cut it down to 15? And if there are leftovers, couldn't I put them in doggy bags and give them to a shelter?
And do I really need to throw away that two-day old cauliflower because I am leaving on a two-week vacation? Or could I put it in the freezer? There are a range of websites that offer advice on nutrition and consumer behavior, for example this one, this one, this one and a lot of others.

We all make choices every day - since we live in a global market, our consumer choices impact directly on others. Ask Spain if you don't believe me.

Shouldn't we be more responsible consumers?

As a courtesy, please don't +1 my blogposts.

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