Updated: Jun 8, 2020
Food security is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as: “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (2014). Food security has four interrelated elements which include availability, access, utilisation, and stability. Hilary Clinton said “food security is the issue of our time,” and while food is a fundamental human right one in nine people around the world (805 million) go hungry every day (2014).
By 2050 the world will need to feed 9 billion people, the demand for food will be 60% greater than it is today (Breene, 2016). Currently we produce enough food to feed 7.8 billion people across the world however, about one-third of the food produced for global consumption is lost and wasted each year. Many factors contribute such as the inefficient use of water, fertilisers, and crop rotations (Verchot, 2020).
In developing countries 40% of food losses occur at post harvest and processing levels because of the lack of transportation, infrastructure, storage, and refrigeration. Whereas in developed countries 40% of food waste happens at the retail and consumer level. Many consumers in developed countries are moving towards buying fresh produce that spoils quickly, and are not always aware they are responsible for food waste. We need to reimagine our food supply to function more optimally and learn how to reduce food waste.
Climate change is another issue that endangers food security. As weather patterns become erratic due to extreme weather it makes it very difficult for farmers to plan for their crops and watch them succeed. Many people don’t realise this but "food waste contributes heavily to climate change. The global effect of processing wasted food in landfills equals about 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide. So, preventing food waste not only improves global food security, but it can also help us mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change” (Breene, 2016).
While our population increases our earth will not. The surface area of arable land will not increase so how do we meet the demand? The solution to ensure food security is not producing more food but rather finding efficient technology to save the food that’s currently being lost and wasted. We need to innovate and develop new technologies (i.e vertical farming, sustainable farm practices) and learn how to better manage the supply chain and harvest. This will help us ensure less food is wasted and in turn lead to robust food security today and in the future.
Everyone has a part to play from the farmers to the consumers. As consumers it’s up to us to prevent food waste in our homes, and we need to set a standard and raise awareness among those responsible in the food industry, which include retailers and food producers.
1. Breene, K. (2016.). Food security and why it matters. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/food-security-and-why-it-matters/
2. Food Security and Why it Matters. (2014, December 22). Retrieved from: https://aifsc.aciar.gov.au/food-security-and-why-it-matters.html
3. Food Waste vs. Food Security: A Conversation With Karl Deily From Sealed Air. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/food-waste-vs-food-security-a-conversation-with-karl-deily-from-sealed-air/
4. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/2014/en/
5. Verchot, M. (2020, May 22). 5 ways to improve global food security. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/5-ways-improve-global-food-security.html