Today, 821 million globally people suffer from perpetual hunger. On October 16, the United Nations marks World Food Day, a day to raise awareness of its goal of #ZeroHunger by 2030. In a world increasingly affected by climate change, hunger seems more likely to increase than to be eradicated in the next 12 years. But global food production is currently sufficient to feed everyone; distribution is as relevant to hunger as production. Global food systems may seem too big for individuals to have an impact but achieving zero hunger requires effort from all of us.
Reduce Food Waste
Reducing food waste can save you money and reduce the burden that food production places on the environment. It can also help reduce world hunger. One-third of all food produced each year — about 1.3 billion tons — goes to waste. That’s four times the amount of food needed to feed the 800 million people currently living in hunger. The average American wastes 400 pounds of food each year. When consumers stop buying the food they don’t eat, producers and distributors will be forced to get creative in reaching previously underserved communities. Develop habits to reduce food waste at home and get involved with organizations, like Feeding America, that work to reduce food waste further up the distribution chain.
Increase Food System Efficiency
Current food production would be enough to feed the current population, but production will need to increase 50 percent to feed the estimated world population in 2050. You can be part of a more efficient food system by supporting local farmers markets. Direct purchasing eliminates links from the distribution chain and creates sales opportunities for smaller-scale producers. No matter where you buy it, purchasing organic food supports sustainable agricultural methods.
Eating a healthy diet has the obvious benefit of helping you stay healthy. It is also part of contributing to a more efficient food system, but the benefits don’t stop there. Healthy foods usually include fewer ingredients — in particular, manufactured ingredients like artificial preservatives and flavorings. They also tend to use less packaging — consider an apple versus an individually wrapped snack bar. All of these changes mean that eating healthy reduces your contribution to climate change, which the World Bank predicts could cut crop yields by more than 25 percent in this century.
Individual changes are important but can only go so far. We have many opportunities to advocate for the end of world hunger. Encourage your elected representatives to support trade policies that improve worldwide access to food and to support the land grant universities that are working to improve agricultural methods. Donate to or volunteer with organizations that work to feed the hungry and amplify the #ZeroHunger message through your network by sharing facts about world hunger.
Feature image courtesy of World Food Day