This presentation addresses the scope and significance of the problem of global food waste - noting that a serious disconnect exists which allows nearly one billion people to go hungry while the world wastes one to two billion tons of food annually. Our values regarding food are well out of balance, and a global food system which creates such vast amounts of waste is in many ways dysfunctional. Industrialized nations display a “culture of abundance” which leads to massive amounts of food waste while the social, economic, and environmental costs of that waste get little mainstream attention. The current state of waste, pollution, and hunger is unsustainable. This presentation notes the importance of valuing our food and optimizing resource usage to prepare the world to handle nine billion people by 2050. While the nine billion by 2050 problem is a daunting challenge, it should also be viewed as a critical opportunity to unite the world with shared purpose to eradicate hunger, minimize environmental impact, and enhance global security through a collaborative global network driven by expertise and urgency. To facilitate this transition, the overall opportunity can be viewed – and addressed – as a series of linked opportunities. This is a journey the world must embrace – we have little choice but to rapidly adopt sustainability principles across the globe which involve minimizing food waste and optimizing resource use if we are to successfully support nine billion people by 2050.
This material was part of a presentation to the IRAS Conference (Institute of Religion in an Age of Science) at Silver Bay, NY on July 31, 2013.