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[lofo List] Tossed Food Is Also Lost Water -- interesting article for land-locked Saskatchewan
Tossed Food Is Also Lost Water
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
New report: Wasted food is also wasted water. The Well blog recently
interviewed Jonathan Brown, a journalist focused on wasted food.
The vast amounts of food lost to spoilage and insects in poor
countries, and simply tossed in rich ones, also represent an enormous
stream of wasted water, according to a new report that calls for big
improvements in a world heading toward 9 billion hungry, thirsty mouths.
The report, “Saving Water: From Field to Fork — Curbing Losses and
Wastage in the Food Chain,” was issued on Thursday by the Stockholm
International Water Institute, Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, and the International Water Management Institute
(report pdf here). It outlines ways that governments could halve the
amount of food lost between field and plate by 2025.
The amounts of waste are staggering. In the United States, nearly one-
third of the food that is produced each year, worth about $48 billion,
is discarded. The water it took to grow and process that wasted food
amounts to about 10 trillion gallons, according to the analysis. Many
European countries have similar losses, proportional to their size.
One reason for the waste is simply that in prospering countries, as
food costs have become an ever smaller proportion of total household
budgets,the amount of discarded food has ballooned, according to a
recent article by Andrew Martin.
Losses in poorer countries most often occur in fields and storehouses,
through spoilage and damage by pests. I wrote last year aboutefforts
to devise low-tech methods to help preserve fruits and vegetables on
the way to markets in hot climates. Years ago, in the context of the
anthrax attacks, I learned aboutfood irradiation, which developing
countries increasingly are employing to cut spoilage rates; the
technique has just been approved in the United States for spinach and
One way or another, it’s clear that improved efficiency in food
production and water use will be needed in a world of growing
populations seeking decent lives. As the new report explains, more
than a billion people now live in areas with insufficient water.
Rising demand for agricultural products that require large amounts of
water, particularly beef cattle and biofuel crops, is adding to
For a close-up look at food waste at the level of the household, you
can check out Tara Parker-Pope’s interview earlier this year with the
food-waste maven Jonathan Bloom.
Daryl H. Hepting, Ph.D.
Associate Professor * Computer Science Department * CW 308.22
University of Regina * Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S 0A2
email@example.com * http://www.cs.uregina.ca/~hepting
tel: (306) 585-5210 * fax: (306) 585-4745 * cell: (306) 596-6312
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