If the world will have 9 billion people or more by 2050, we'll probably be okay.
The scare stories of food riots and mass famine once promoted by 1960s Doomsday Prophet Paul Ehrlich are today only promoted by, well, Paul Ehrlich. Even organic farmers say they can feed the world now.
In the last 30 years, America has led the world in science and nowhere has that been more evident than in food. American farmers have successfully dematerialized in a world of materialism - they grow more food on less land using fewer pesticides than ever thought possible. And the future looks even brighter.
Developing nations are having better lives ahead of projections but things aren't perfect. Some people still go hungry and wealthier countries are getting fat. So wasting less food won't end hunger until we have an energy system that normalizes food growth, or at least the cost of transportation, but it will sure make food waste less annoying until that happens.
How much food? 1.3 billion tons each year - one-third of the food produced for human consumption around the world - is lost or wasted each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That's enough to feed 1.25 billion people.
Everyone talks about food waste, mostly the food waste of other people, but not much attention is given to taking the issue out of the world of statistics and first world activism - a bunch of dummies on Twitter creating hashtags saying we need to end food waste - to actual change. The FutureFood 2050 initiative wants to discuss ways that scientists, activists and entrepreneurs are tackling the epidemic of global food waste.
Some are obvious. Europeans legislate the beauty of food so that leads to waste in landfills. Science 2.0 has ridiculed their ugly fruit mentality for years. Others are less well known, such as using fly larvae as a low-waste source of livestock feed.
And then there is the somewhat crazy food labeling. I am happy to go to my grocery store and get 30% off a steak because the expiration date is approaching - but I know it's only because the dye they stick in there to make meat pretty is starting to wear off. Most people assume an expiration date is a hard date and the food will be bad.
Mostly it will just involve a social evolution. It's only been in recent decades that science has given us a way to grow so much food that poor people can afford to be fat and waste food, so it will require a cultural adjustment to waste less. But it's worth a discussion now.
Hate GMOs? You're dooming poor people to starvation because you were lucky enough to be born in a place where food grows easily, but anti-science groups like Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace won't engage in rational speech about that so it's better just to try and contain their fear mongering while positive work can be done elsewhere. “Freeganism” - foraging on food discarded by supermarkets - sounds like dumpster diving or eating garbage, so that is bizarre enough to get people taking. The tastiness of maggots has shock value.
will release 75 interviews with and food waste is the third installment of their interview series. Next year, they will also create a documentary film exploring about the science of food and how it will contribute to feeding the world. That is why they are getting attention on Science 2.0. The era of mopey anti-science activists protesting science and embracing a naturalistic fallacy is over.
Credit: Institute of Food Technologists
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