Watch some of John Oliver's rant on Americans wasting $165 billion of food each year. Then read my comments below.
After seeing that a major portion of all food in the U.S. is thrown in the trash, one may come to the conclusion that if we just stopped wasting food, we may be able to save the hungry of the world. Indeed, in a place like Hawaii where food prices are very high, this may make a difference, especially in the short-term, for the local hungry.
I am not sure that saving food in the First World saves hungry people in the Third World. I suppose it may lower the prices of food worldwide, until farmers adjust and reduce the amount of food produced, because producing it is not as profitable. Or agribusiness simply decides to continue producing for fewer profits.
Worst case scenario: food commodity prices go lower and large corporate agribusiness can profit at those lower prices, but small, Third World farmers and peasants cannot sell for a profit at those lower prices.
After all, those peasants and small producers may not have the economies of scale (larger scales of production lower costs of production); they don't have access to certain technologies that lower the amount of land and inputs necessary to produce a pound of food.
The small producer's main advantage is that they are willing to work for a very low wage or very low profit per hour. So if commodity prices go lower, do small farmers in Mexico produce less or does corporate agribusiness produce less, or do both produce less; or do they both produce the same amount? Likely, the profits go down for the small producer.
This is one of the problems with trying to solve a problem by influencing the supply of a product that is overabundant for some (most Americans) and scarce for a couple billion people mostly in the Third World (developing world). The product -- food commodity -- is also the main source of income for those people most affected by hunger.
Which brings us back to the solution I have been proposing the whole time..... the simplest solution, the most direct solution . . . . provide free or discounted food for all those who need it.
This increases the demand for food, rather than decreases the demand for food (as wasting less food would have), thereby increasing or maintaining the prices for food in the nations affected by hunger. That sounds bad for the hungry, except that the hungry are being provided free or discounted food. The beneficiaries are the rural poor and small farmers -- the people who typically struggle most with hunger.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. Not wasting food in California probably does nothing for the hungry family in Congo. Fortunately, the actual, non-magical is not so complex, or expensive.
I have been calling for the UN to provide a budget proposal for abolishing hunger; this would inspire people to think in practical terms and act in practical terms to actually do it -- abolish hunger!
Well, the FAO last week came out with a report that 265 billion dollars annually would not only abolish hunger but also abolish extreme poverty in the world!
Well, as John reported in the video, the US wastes $165 billion in food every year. If they saved that food and sent the $165 to the likes of the World Food Programme, then hunger would most certainly be completely abolished (estimated at $30 billion cost) and many tens of millions would be lifted out of extreme poverty! Yes! Exclamation point!
By using the money we throw away each year, we can abolish hunger completely and much of extreme poverty worldwide. Save your food, save your money, then send some of that cash to the World Food Programme and believe in the right to food and nourishment!