Food waste solutions and Land Usage – are they all ethical?

“About 75% of land and 66% of ocean areas have been “significantly altered” by people, driven in large part by the production of food, according to the IPBES report, which will be released in full later this year. Crop and livestock operations currently co-opt more than 33% of Earth’s land surface and 75% of its freshwater resources. Agricultural activities are also some of the largest contributors to human emissions of greenhouse gases.”

The IPBES points out the risks to the planet and consequently to ourselves, that current human activity is generating. Unsustainable agriculture along with lifestyles are leading to an enormous percentage of food being wasted resulting in high inefficiencies in land usage plus in the food value chain, approximately 58% of its waste occurs during from production to distribution, the residual 42% is wasted due to human’s consumption habits. 79% of food waste occurs in Europe and North America. On average, each European and each North American wastes between 95-115 kg per year, the big wastage occurs with cereals, fruits and vegetables, according to FAO lastest’s available report. On the Spanish Tomatina day 145 tons of tomato are wasted yearly on the streets for fun, most probably these tomatoes have been produced under an EU subsidy scheme, “Giving pearls to pigs” a Portuguese proverb would apply here. Why is food wasted for fun when so many could have a better meal if those tomatoes would be given to them? Why do people pay tickets to get into that party instead of raising money for more ethical purposes?

Other food waste solutions like producing energy also seem quite unethical to me, when 1/9 people in the world are undernourished, according to UN data. Why wouldn’t a better solution for food waste be found when one of the global challenges is producing enough food for a growing population while maintaining the ecosystems, reducing GHG and land usage? Why using it to generate electricity when it can be generated from sustainable sources?

Changing consumers eating habits as well as improving agriculture along with its value chain is essential. Circular Economy examples are popping up with non-commercial food being reused in healthy productive processes. More of those are needed.

Note: The author has originally published this post on LinkedIn on the 9th of May 2019