Guest post by Dana Gunders, Staff Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (@dgunders)
In last week’s episode (“Dreamcatcher”) of NBC’s dramatic science fiction series Revolution, Aaron is jolted back to the present day where energy, food, and comfort are abundant. Seeing a half-eaten sandwich in a street garbage bin, the instincts he’s developed from the ‘powerless’ life 15 years in Revolution’s future move him to eat it.
The time travel may be science fiction in today’s world, but the reality of food scarcity is not. There are 842 million hungry people in the world and, at the same time, about one third of all food never gets eaten. The fact that hunger exists alongside abundance and waste is something that should give each
Wasted food has other costs as well. It’s estimated that uneaten food accounts for 28 per cent of all land in agriculture and if it were a country, it would rank third in greenhouse gas emissions behind the US and China. Not to mention the enormous financial costs. In the US alone, $161 billion is spent on uneaten food.
The challenge of feeding ourselves will only become more difficult with over nine billion people expected on the planet in 2050. The UN forecasts that we’ll need up to 60 per cent more food to feed that projected population (with increasingly meat-dependent diets). To achieve this, it’s estimated that about 170 million more acres of farmland will be required along with an 80 per cent increase in yields from existing croplands in developing countries. How will we do this?
Wasting less food has got to be part of the answer, which is why the UN Environment Programme launched its Think.Eat.Save campaign. We must step up efforts to reduce waste. We can use shopping lists, practice restraint when at the grocery store, and learn what expiration dates really mean. We can freeze food before it goes bad. We can learn how to use up food that’s just a little past its prime and be sure to eat our leftovers. We can treat food with respect, as something we’re thankful for, and as something we know should really not be wasted.
- Zero Hunger Challenge: Hunger can be eliminated in our lifetime
- Hunger statistics from the World Food Programme
Follow our Twitter updates via @UN during Season 2 of Revolution. We will continue to highlight some of the facts and real-life challenges depicted in Revolution, and present fans of the show with opportunities to learn more and make a difference.