Food Waste Worldwide and Animals

IMechE Food Report Cover-web

In England the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has issued a timely report Global Food Waste Not, Want Not. The report may be downloaded as a pdf (click here). Readers interested in animal care issues should read the report.

There is considerable concern expressed about the wastage of fruit/vegetables harvested. Not all harvested vegetables even reach retail markets, and needless to say not all produce is actually bought let alone eaten. This problem stretches across developing nations and in technologically advanced nations like England, Australia etc.

Various problems are identified with food wastage in advanced countries such as consumer fuss over the appearance of produce, “use-by-dates” on produce; and poor storage facilities and poor distribution in less technologically developed nations.

The report points to the enormous consumption of water in producing different kinds of foods a studied just in the European continent where pundits might speak of “efficient” farming practices. The consumption of water the report tabulates relative to Europe should give pause for consideration in Australia where water is sometimes scarce and the cycles of drought/flood/fire beset us.

Based on the European study, the volume of water consumed for various products is cited (page 12):

1 kg of apples = 822 litres

1 kg of bread = 1,608 litres

1 kg of olives = 3,025 litres

1 kg of dry pasta = 1,849 litres

1 kg of rice = 2,497 litres

1 kg of tomatoes = 214 litres

The chart also tabulates water consumption for the production of meat (remembering that what we call “meat” was once an individual living creature):

1 kg of Beef = 15,415 litres

1 kg of Chicken meat = 4,325 litres

1 kg of Sheep meat = 10,412 litres

And for other items we consume by eating or using the amount of water:

1 litre of Biodiesel  requires 11,397 litres

1 kg of chocolate requires 17,196 litres

The report cites other distressing points:-

  • India 21 million tonnes of wheat wasted due to poor storage and poor distribution
  • UK 7 million tonnes of food waste disposed of from households (roughly worth 10 billion pounds sterling)
  • South East Asian nations — loss of rice harvested ranges from 37-80% of the entire crop

While many advocates for animal causes urge people to become vegetarian and/or vegan,   there are enormous problems feeding the world with land usage, landfill of waste, water consumption per annum, and much more. The report does contain broad brush stroke recommendations on addressing problems but I remain highly suspicious of the rhetoric surrounding “sustainable economies”, when often times the jargon is like a code-word for people in advanced nations continuing to maintain the status quo of lifestyle at the expense of the rest of the world.

On a different note, the next post coming on this blog will be a book review of a newly released work A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals, edited by Tripp York and Andy Alexis-Baker (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2012; imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers). This book is volume 2 in a series known as the peaceable kingdom series (click here for more details).