You're what you eat (Blog 7)

Why More Food Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Hunger

As Earth’s population grows larger and larger, concerns about world hunger continue to rise. Some put world hunger on the same pedestal as global warming and our economic crisis; it is a really big deal. So, how do we fight hunger? The obvious answer would be to make more food.

Wrong. The answer is to be more efficient in transporting the food we currently have. Here’s a statistic that will blow your mind from an article on The Guardian: “According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),a third of the food currently produced never reaches our plates. This equates to 1.3bn tonnes of food waste, a £470bn economic loss and 3.3bn tonnes of CO2 emissions globally every year.” Wait, what? Most of the discussion about food waste always focuses on how much food goes to waste after we buy it, not before. Tons of studies focus on how much food ends up in trash cans when it could be in the mouths of those in starvation. But, this study examines a different perspective. An even more shocking statistic shows that in developing countries this ratio is as high as 40%; nearly half of the food that is produced in these countries during harvesting never makes it into the bodies of the starving people that need it most. What can we do about this? The answer lies in efficient supply chain management.


Companies like Walmart have been incredibly successful because they have been able to cut costs and maximize responsiveness in their supply chains. Through the creation of radio frequency identification (RFID), Walmart has been able to notify its suppliers, electronically, when a product is running low. In response, the supplier will anticipate this shortcoming and ship more product to the store automatically. How can this be applied to the supply chain for, let’s say, corn? Well, in the U.S., it may be easy. The government and private sector can pitch in to create new technologies and make the system more efficient than it currently is. However, the U.S. is not the majority of the problem. How do poor African countries fix their food shortages? Is it the duty of wealthier nations to step in and assist these lagging regions? And, with enough government problems (or no government at all) here in the U.S., how can we expect to help other nations? There really aren’t answers to these questions, and that is the scary part.


Below is an interesting video with more frightening statistics about how much food we actually waste…

3 thoughts on “Why More Food Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Hunger

  1. I totally agree in increasing the efficiency of supply chain management. So much food goes to waste all the time, even do to our faults too, such as overbuying and then letting food spoil. My only worry is do you think business will increase using GM foods to increase supply chain management efficiency? Many people may not be in favor of that.

  2. I also did my blog on food waste, but solely the food we waste AFTER we purchase. Now knowing how much is wasted so early in the process its embarrassing knowing how much food we waste.

    What ways do you think we can be more efficient in getting food from farm to plate?

  3. I have often said that hunger is not a population problem, it is a food distribution problem.

    HUGE opportunities here for “social business.” In other words, solving these problems can generate a profit. Maybe not Wall St profit, but enough to cover costs and grow.

    Another side benefit is if we can slow down urbanization. Even in this country, a more labor-intensive food production system that would be good for health and for the planet may mean a shift away from urban living.

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