October 16th is World Food Day – a global effort to end world hunger. At OSU’s Student Sustainability Initiative, we’re focusing our efforts not on new modes of farming, but what we can do right now to have an impact. We came up with the Clean Plate Challenge to call attention to the food that is being wasted and the effect it has on our global community. Join us, on Wednesday the 16th, by cleaning your plate. Eat every last bit of food on your plate, throw away nothing, and show us your effort. Take a picture and participate in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – #osussi #WFD2013 #foodwaste
You may have heard many experts pose the question, “How do we feed 9 billion people in 2050?” Human population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 and one of the major concerns is how to feed that many people. Often times, conversations on solutions are focused on increasing productivity of crops to better conserve our water, land, and other resources. What is left out of the discussion is the issue of food waste. At current rates of food waste, we would have to increase production by 60% to feed the projected 9 billion people in 2050.
So, how much food do we waste now? Globally, one third of food produced goes to waste. In the US, we throw out about 40% of what we produce. If we could reduce food waste by a mere 25% in the US, UK, and Australia, we could lift 1 billion people out of hunger. And that’s without new agricultural technology to increase the efficiency of our production methods. One of the biggest aspects of global hunger is not that we don’t produce enough food, it’s that the food that is produced is not distributed equitably. The people who need it most don’t have access to it, and the people who have it, often live in excess. Addressing global hunger is not just a technical question, it’s a question about social justice. Furthermore, all that food waste has severe environmental impacts. When 1.43 billion tons of food is wasted, it is a lot of wasted energy. Water and land resources used to produce that food is wasted and additionally, it is creating billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This makes food waste an important environmental and social issue.
This is not an effort to remind you to eat all that is on your plate because there are starving children in Africa. It’s about recognizing the impact of our actions and learning to take little steps to do our part, together.