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The Clean Plate Club

John Norris writes about the astonishing amount of food the world wastes every year and asks why it's so hard to cut down on leftovers, save the environment, and feed the hungry.

The numbers are nothing short of astounding. According to the United Nations, roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption every year simply gets wasted. In a world where global hunger still kills more people every year than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, 1.3 billion tons of food annually is lost through inefficiency, ignorance, and mismanagement. That’s disgusting, if not downright criminal.

The impact of such inefficiency is enormous, costing the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars, including among some of the poorest people in the world who can least afford it. The environmental impact is also significant, and the U.N. estimates that the carbon footprint from “food produced and not eaten,” would rank behind only the United States and China when considered in terms of global annual emissions. The water annually required to produce this food that is never consumed equals three times the volume of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva.

The problem of food and agricultural waste besets both the developed and developing world alike, but in starkly different ways as food makes it way from the field or fishery to your fork (or not, rather).

The above excerpt was originally published in Foreign Policy. Click here to view the full article.

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John Norris

Senior Fellow; Executive Director, Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative