There’s a serious food shortage in the world today. But how much of that is our fault?
Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal examines the shortage of food all over the world today, and explores the reasons as to why so many people are still without enough food. Tristram Stuart, the author, travelled all over the world in search of answers to this question. His findings are shocking, to say the least. On average, Americans waste 50% of the food that they buy, and we dump over 20 million tons of food annually. Needless to say, 20 million tons of food could go a long way in feeding the hungry.
Stuart was raised in a family that did whatever they could to not waste food. He recalls being scolded by his grandmother when he was a child for throwing out a tea bag that he had “only used once”. Therefore, he is in a somewhat unique spot to be able to rightfully criticize others who are wasteful. However, his findings were that the biggest culprits of food waste are, not surprisingly, supermarkets. Every year, supermarkets send thousands of tons of food straight to the landfill. He gives examples in the book about other wasteful practices, and one that stood out to me was the fact that some supermarkets insist that their bread suppliers cut off the end pieces and one additional piece from each side. While some consumers undoubtedly appreciate the act, it ends up amounting to over 13,000 slices of fresh bread a day.
One other thing that Stuart touches on are the “best by” dates on packaged and perishable food. These dates are seen as hard deadlines by most consumer families, and once an item gets near or past that date, it generally goes straight into the trash. Stuart’s research, however, has led him to conclude that food is almost always good days, if not weeks, past the “best by” date, and all these deadlines do is help create massive amounts of unneccessary waste.
Stuart’s main argument in the book is that the food shortage in the world is self created. We don’t need to deforest the planet in order to get food, he argues, because we should be able to feed everyone with what we have. He presents some eye opening statistics that insinuate that he may be right. There is plenty of food in the world for everyone; it’s just up to us, the upper and middle classes, not to waste it.