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Food Waste Complicates Effort to Slow Climate Change

Gloved hands placing food waste into paper bag

Candle Photo/AdobeStock.com

Although more than 900 million people around the world don’t have enough to eat, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) disagrees with the conclusion of the United Nations World Food Program, which tracks indicators of acute hunger across 92 countries, that the world needs more food. In a report, Driven to Waste, WWF estimates that 2.5 billion tons of food are wasted every year around the world on farms, at retail stores, restaurants, homes and during post-farm transportation, storage, manufacturing and processing.

The nonprofit suggests that food waste should be viewed not only in relation to world hunger, but also in the context of climate change. Food production consumes vast amounts of land, water and energy in ways that contribute to the global climate crisis. They claim that food waste accounts for 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

More than one billion acres of land is used to grow food on farms that could be used for rewilding efforts that have been shown to mitigate the effects of climate change. Shortening long food supply chains, for example, could give farmers greater knowledge of their end markets to help estimate food production needs more accurately. Giving farmers more flexibility to negotiate with buyers could help them invest in waste-reducing training and technology.

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