Throw­ing away so much food means the poor­est around the world are go­ing hun­gry

Lynne Pater­son calls for con­sumers to be aware of how much they buy

The Scotsman - - Friends Of The Scotsman -

For the first time in more than a decade, the num­ber of hun­gry peo­ple in the world is on the rise.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent UN re­port, 815 mil­lion peo­ple are now fac­ing hunger, which is an in­crease of 38 mil­lion peo­ple from the pre­vi­ous year.

Th­ese fig­ures are stag­ger­ing – es­pe­cially when we are liv­ing in a world that is pro­duc­ing more food than ever be­fore. Worse still, a third of it is wasted. Here in Scot­land, we throw out enough food from our homes each year to make 800 mil­lion meals.

In our work at Tear­fund, we meet peo­ple in the poor­est cor­ners of the world who are lit­er­ally cry­ing out ev­ery day for their daily bread. And yet here in Scot­land, we dis­card 2.1 mil­lion slices of it ev­ery sin­gle day. That’s enough to fill the rugby pitch at Mur­ray­field Sta­dium two and a half times over.

Rather iron­i­cally, this food waste is also con­tribut­ing to one of the main causes of the growth in world hunger, cli­mate change. Peo­ple are be­ing pushed fur­ther into poverty around the world be­cause the cli­mate is chang­ing fast. There are more droughts, more floods, and less re­li­able rain – which makes it much harder for peo­ple in poverty to feed them­selves.

We re­cently met a fam­ily in cen­tral Malawi who told us they have re­lied on agri­cul­ture to sus­tain them­selves for decades, but their crops are now fail­ing and they are forced to feed their chil­dren food they would nor­mally toss to the pigs.

We be­lieve it is a huge in­jus­tice that the poor est com­mu­ni­ties in the world suf­fer the most from cli­mate change, when they are the ones who have con­trib­uted least to the prob­lem.

Tear­fund Scot­land re­cently launched Re­new our Food, a cam­paign which high­lights the link between food waste and our car­bon foot­print. We look at the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of pro­duc­ing far more food than we con­sume, and how this af­fects poor com­mu­ni­ties around the globe.

Our cam­paign is about en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to take steps to cut down on the amount of food we throw away and to re­alise the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact this could have. If ev­ery­one in Scot­land stopped throw­ing away food, the re­duc­tion on emis­sions would be the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing one in four cars off the roads. We are also

call­ing on Scot­tish su­per­mar­kets to pro­tect the world’s poor­est peo­ple by mak­ing a com­mit­ment to halve food waste and pro­duce a plan of ac­tion to show how this will be achieved. This call to ac­tion is in line with the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal of halv­ing food waste by 2030.

At the cen­tre of our food sup­ply chains, su­per­mar­kets have a unique and pow­er­ful role to play in re­duc­ing food waste.

For in­stance, they can re­lax strict cos­metic stan­dards that lead to wasted crops. In the UK, as much as 30 per cent of veg­etable crops are not har­vested due to their fail­ure to meet re­tail­ers’ ex­act­ing cos­metic stan­dards. This means that their taste and nu­tri­tional value are fine; they just might be blem­ished or mis­shapen.

Su­per­mar­kets also have a role to play in no longer en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to buy more food than they need, as well as work­ing with sup­pli­ers to make sure food pro­duc­tion does not ex­ceed de­mand.

Whilst it’s im­por­tant to stop food from go­ing to land­fill, the big­gest en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit – and there­fore ben­e­fit to peo­ple in poverty – is from pre­vent­ing the ex­cess food from be­ing pro­duced in the first place. This would re­duce the en­ergy, water and other re­sources used to grow, har­vest, trans­port, process, sell, store and cook the food.

As we ap­proach World Food Day this com­ing Mon­day, 16 Oc­to­ber, Tear­fund is en­cour­ag­ing Scots to care­fully con­sider the food that we waste and the im­pact that this has on the world’s poor­est peo­ple.we are ask­ing con­sumers to use their power to urge su­per­mar­kets to take de­ci­sive ac­tion for the sake of those who are in great­est need.

You can make your voice heard at www.tear­fund.org/food­waste Lynne Pater­son, di­rec­tor of Tear­fund Scot­land.

0 Scot­tish house­holds throw away tons of wasted food ev­ery year

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