Worldwide Waste of Food

The food discarded by consumers and retailers in just the most developed nations would be more than enough to sustain all the world’s 870 million hungry people if effective distribution methods were available.

— New York Times, Editorial Board

As with most civilization technologies, the solution to this waste is infrastructure. None of us want to waste food. Nobody decides to take more food at Souplantation than they can eat, just to leave it for the busboy to take away, okay, almost nobody. I have seen violators!

Here is a post I wrote about food waste at the Hampton Inn a couple of years ago. In that article I pointed out the eggs I noticed in the trash can after they cleared the breakfast buffet at 10:00 am.

Waste at Hampton Inn
Wasted food at the Hampton Inn

I pointed out in that post, if they simply didn’t peel the eggs before they put them on display, they would not have to throw them out every day. And sure enough, soon after that all the Hampton Inns started serving unpeeled eggs and have done so ever since. My post was probably a coincidence and perhaps aligned with consumer complaints from many people to cause them to change this.

If there were a way to get the extra four-inches of the Subway foot-long that I can’t quite eat to some starving child in Somalia, that child would get calories for several days out of that sandwich. But there is no way.

If there were a way to let supermarkets transport the food they are forced to throw into the dumpsters to a country where there is a food shortage, many mouths would be fed.

Since transporting our waste is not practical and possible, the ultimate solution is to figure out less expensive ways to produce the food where it is needed. We’re right back at sustainable agriculture, and the infrastructure required to support it. Solving the world hunger problem is a project of decades, not years, and requires continuous commitment from individuals and governments.

Since governments by nature only care for their own problems and needs, the misaligned distribution of infrastructure and wealth cuts out the poorest nations. We need to find a profit incentive. Some entrepreneur must find a way to make distribution of food technologies and food itself to developing nations profitable, and then things will start rolling.

Here is a need. Does anyone have an idea how to fill it?

3 thoughts on “Worldwide Waste of Food

  1. I totally agree. My man works in produce at a local grocery store chain. A very large one who does a lot of charity work. But still, almost every day they are forced by rules/laws/regulations to throw out slightly wilted lettuce, or bruised bananas. Instead of offering it on sale or to local food banks. See, they get credit for that waste. But then they throw it away. Why not get the credit and then share it (even if it’s on the sly)? I just don’t get it. If I could feed the world, I would in a heart beat.

  2. People have tried to start nonprofits where they give away food to the needy that grocery stores and restaurants throw out every night. Apparently the laws around food and expiration dates are too tough and these organizations always get shut down, so the laws would need to change first.

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