2011-10-19

People Are Starving, But There's Enough Food

One in seven people in the world is malnourished. But the solution isn’t producing more food. We already produce too much. It’s just not going to the right places.

If you’re reading this, chances are you had enough to eat last night. And last week. In fact--barring diets--you’ve probably always had enough to eat and are often throwing out a lot of food. There are, though, as we’ve been told in countless charity informericals, hungry people all over the world. And as world population explodes, there are going to be more and more. This infographic shows how bad this hunger crisis is, but also that we have the means at hand to fix it.How many people don’t have enough food? One in seven, which means almost one billion people are undernourished. This number is actually steeply down from recent years, when it soared due to various global food crises, but it’s still drastically higher than it has been at most times over the last 30 years.

And that’s just today. The world is projected to add another 3 billion people in the next 40 years, which means we will need to produce much more food in the future.

Before we get to that rapid acceleration of food production, is there anything to be done now? Massive farm projects in the developing world? Well, a large part of the problem is simply that our food is misallocated. Most of it is in America--where we eat too much of it, and waste even more. Almost half of all the food in America is wasted, and globally, we waste almost a third of all the food we produce:

Looking at both food waste (what we throw out after meals because we’re full) and food loss (food that’s lost during production), you can see that, given some logistical jury-rigging, there is a lot of extra food available in the world, if only we could waste less of it and then somehow transport it where it’s needed:

It’s also interesting to note that, give or take, all over the world people are wasting the same amount of food at their table. It’s a lot, but it’s global. You can see where industrialized food production processes have, in the developed world, created so much waste. Everyone throws away food when they eat; it’s how they make the food that sets the developed world apart.

Check out the whole infographic here, or below:

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2 Comments

  • Kris73

    What I don't understand is the millions (if not billions) raised every year to feed/help the starving people and nothing seems to change. Please correct me if I'm wrong but we really don't seem to be putting  even a dent into the crisis. I don't feel it's the people with food wasting it that's the problem - there's got to be something more fundamentally wrong with the way this world is run - it's almost like it's deliberate.

  • goldbromide

    I agree the amount of waste is obscene, but to reduce it, we can either start buying less, hurting everyone from the farmers to the grocers, or else continue buying the same amount and send our surplus as foreign aid (which is impossible given the transportation costs and shelf lives).  Attention here would be better directed towards other wasted commodities such as electricity and water. This was excellent advice for helping individuals spend less, but doesn't really translate to a global scale.