Our Consumer Power

Rising food costs and food insecurity prompted the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to commission a report on food loss. The results are nothing but striking. Each year 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted, representing about a third of the food produced for human consumption. What the report defines as losses occur as a result of inefficient production and processing; what it defines as waste occurs when retailers and consumers throw away edible food. The report places blame on the retailers of nations like the United States where much food is thrown away because it looks unappealing. Marketing tactics and consumers, albeit indirectly, are also blamed for respectively encouraging and being part of buying more than is needed. The food chain is long and complex and hopefully the appropriate individuals and organizations will address the highlighted losses and wastes. As consumers, however, there is much we can do. If we were less wasteful in the way we buy and consume, what a difference we could make!