Tag Archives: sustainable food consumption

Is sustainable food consumption a myth?

There can be no doubt that our planet is under severe strain from economic and social development that maintains inefficient production and consumption patterns and an uneven distribution of resources.  The richest 20% of the people in the world consume nearly 75% of the planet’s natural resources.

It’s been said that if all the people of the world were to consume like those in affluent countries, we would need the equivalent of 4 extra Earths, putting unbearable pressure on our ecological balance.  Add to this the fact that the world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, with nearly all of the growth projected to take place in developing countries. 

You may believe that it’s just not possible to produce enough food to feed the global population. You would be wrong. Food wasted in affluent countries is estimated to be up to 50% of all that’s harvested.  Moreover, unequal distribution of food is the main reason why there are a billion undernourished and starving people in the world today.  The huge amount of food waste also corresponds to serious wasteful impacts on fuels for transportation, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, water and generation of methane. 

Sticking with hunger and poverty for now, here are just a few sobering statistics reported as part of research conducted in 2007 in support of the Millenium Development Goals:

  • In 2005, the worldwide expenditure on military equipment and services was $1001 billion US (that’s more than a trillion US dollars!)
  • In 2006, North Americans spent $37 billion dollars on pet food and pet care products

Contrast that with the following:

  • An estimated $54-62 billion dollars would halve the number of people subsisting on less than a dollar a day by 2015
  • An estimated $29.6 billion dollars would halve the number of people suffering from hunger and halve the number of children suffering from malnutrition by 2015

Shocked and awed?  Although some see these statistics as controversial and lacking rigour, this is just the tip of the iceberg highlighting the urgency of breaking away from socially unjust vested interests and promoting and practicing sustainable consumption worldwide.