Disparity Between Food Abundance and Waste

Slow Food president and founder Carlo Petrini addresses the imbalance between food abundance and food waste:

Q: We can produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or some 4 billion more than the Earth’s current population. Yet, there are estimates of between 8 million and 2 billion people worldwide who are hungry. Why?

A: This is the largest world problem we have. It’s a huge environmental issue. Almost 40% of the food made is wasted. The cause is dependent on what side of the world you’re on. We see the same percentage of waste in Africa, where people are dying of hunger. They don’t have adequate distribution or refrigeration to transport fish deep into the villages. The processing capabilities aren’t there. In the rich parts of the world, food waste happens because food is cheap and devalued. Just look at our refrigerators—or please don’t. The back is full of rotting food. There might be tiny amounts of mold in your jar of marmalade. People throw it out. It’s a question of education. We lost our capacity to use every part of the food. We focus too much on aesthetic properties. In Europe, 30% of organic food is dumped for composting. Maybe because there’s a bump on the potato. The nutritional part is perfect. Supermarkets are a huge problem because they refuse to put (ugly produce) out. The amount of food waste is a real disaster, and we have to educate and inform.