It’s no secret that food waste results in many negative consequences for the environment. These impacts are made exponentially worse because of the food waste created throughout the food chain, from the initial production, through to the retailers, and finishing with the consumers. Only recently in our human history has society become so wealthy that we have been able to develop a problem such as food waste. These consequence are ethical issues that the world is beginning to wake up to, but there still has yet to be a large enough of a reaction to reverse these terrible effects. Our modern agriculture creates several detrimental consequences on the environment around us, and by wasting up to 40% of the food we produce, we as a society are only increasing these terrible consequences. Let’s take a look at a few of the key resource that our modern agriculture is beginning to exhaust:
- Water Wastage
Modern agriculture currently uses 70% of the global freshwater used each year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that food production will need to increase by 60% by 2050, and therefore the amount of freshwater needed to meet these needs will have to increase. When food is wasted, so is fresh water. As freshwater resources become scarcer, it will be imperative to minimize the food waste so that we’re not wasting water.
- Land Wastage
As our population’s need for food production increases, there’s an increased pressure put on the land. Not using up to 40% of the food that’s produced puts a terrible strain on the land, and is starting to erode fertile land. FAOs latest estimate (from 2007), shows that 1,4 billion hectares of land, which is almost the same total area as Russia, were used to produce food that wasn’t even eaten.
- Phosphorus Wastage
Phosphorus is one of the main components in fertilizer, which is a crucial material that’s needed in agriculture. Phosphorus is used to help in the development of roots, flowers, seeds and fruit. However, as more and more of it’s used to meet the demanding agricultural needs around the world, an increasing amount of Phosphorus is needed, but the production of it may reach its peak in 2030. The scary consequence that’s been noted by scientists is that we could run out of Phosphorus completely in 50-100 years.
As we can see, if we continue to increase agricultural production in the decades to come, we may begin to live the terrible effects of depleting some of our most valuable resources. The answer to this is to stop wasting so much food. If we were to tone down our food waste, producers would not have to put so much pressure on these resources and could begin to save some of the much-needed supply.
If you’re interested in learning more about the awful impacts that food waste is causing to our planet, come back on Friday as we explore the pollution that we’re seeing from food waste, and its impact on our climate.