(Part 2 of a 6-part series)
In Australia we waste at least 20% of the food we buy – $8 billion of edible food is chucked out. You think that is unavoidable?
Chew on this: in the USA, over 30% of all the food produced each year is trashed – that’s 40 million tonnes of food, or 140 trillion calories. That would be enough to feed one billion malnourished people; and it all goes in the dumpster.
Around the world, just the water used to irrigate the food wasted each year is enough for the domestic needs of 9 billion people.
The USA, the UK and Europe together have about twice the food they need to keep their entire populations well-fed and healthy. What do they do with the extras? Overeat, get obese and waste the rest. Up to 40% of excellent fruit and veggies are discarded in Europe before they reach the shops – because they don’t look pretty enough.
Wait a minute…don’t we yell at our kids to stop playing with their food? Don’t we scold them for throwing their food? Woops! The kids better not find out what the parents have been up to!
OK. I’m raving now. So don’t just take it from me. Check this out: CLICK!
And this: CLICK!
Better still, see this hair-raising Ted Talk!!! CLICK!
The world already grows enough food for 10 billion people. We don’t have a scarcity problem. We have a distribution problem. We have a snobbery problem. We have an inequality problem. ‘For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet.’ CLICK HERE
So, even if the population keeps climbing, and even if we did nothing to change what we eat – if we just stopped wasting food and spread it around and shared it, the whole world would eat and drink and there’d be lots of leftovers in the fridge.
But that is not all. The above is a massive underestimate of what we could achieve; we can do much better than that! Eat less red meat, and you reduce bowel cancer and gout and lengthen lives. Eat less red meat and you can regenerate vast lands as bio-diverse carbon-sinks. Eat less red meat, and arrest the methane emissions (bovine flatulence) that fry our atmosphere 8 times more powerfully than CO2. How about that? Our health is also the planet’s health! CLICK HERE
Big Agribusiness, with their mono-cultural mega-farms, are giant sitting ducks for pests. These inefficient industrial farms require huge expenditure on pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Some of the pesticides they use have decimated bee and butterfly populations around the world. Who is going to pollinate the plants when all the bees are gone? Who pays for the chronic illnesses and slow deaths that these toxic chemical cocktails bring us? Who pulled the wool over our eyes and said this is the only way to feed the masses? CLICK!
A return to smaller farms that mix their crops (especially if they use permaculture), can increase yields dramatically while reducing the farmer’s workload and the need for pesticides. Small farms with diversified cropping can be up to 10 times more efficient and productive than large-scale agribusiness monocultures. The problem isn’t overpopulation then: it is oversupply. CLICK!
Watch this powerful brief talk by economist Helena Norbert Hodge. She shows us how people can increase employment, build strong communities, slash transport costs as well as carbon emissions by reverting to localized bio-diverse cropping. These folks increase yields by up to a factor of 10!
Still think the problem is ‘overpopulation’? CLICK!
And what about the growing deserts and despoiled lands? We now have all the know-how necessary to change climates for the better and rehabilitate huge tracts of land. The key is planting combinations of bio-diverse native forests interspersed with poly-cultural cropping. The proven result: steep gains in employment, vast improvements in public health through diversified diets, restored local climates, reductions in violence, lucrative ecotourism as habitats return – all of this side by side with sustainable farming. For example: did you hear about the Great Green Wall in Sahara? Africans are planting a 15 kilometer-wide buffer of native forest along the entire southern edge of the Sahara, all the way from the west to the east coast of Africa. The extraordinary benefits of this Great Green Wall are already flowing in Senegal, the first country to implement this project.
Check it out! Here is a short film about the Great Green Wall. Be amazed by what humans can achieve when we put our minds to it (and when we refuse to kowtow to vested interests): CLICK!
Another jaw-dropping example is in Borneo, where a huge forest was re-planted in the wake of devastating logging practices. The locals now have a whole new rainforest that works as an orangutan habitat and it is honeycombed with diverse food-cropping. Employment has surged, health and wellbeing improved for the locals and even the local climate and rainfall have been renewed. Get your organic popcorn, sugar-free sparkling Kombucha drink, and watch this short film! CLICK!
Not convinced yet? Have a look at how permaculture has been used to green the most bone-dry, salt-dead desert in Jordan. We can re-green any desert, we can re-green the Middle-East and we can desalinate the desert soils. Hard to believe? See this – it left me speechless! CLICK!
Now take a look at how they are greening the desert and making it productive in Qatar, using some ingenuity, industrial waste, salt water and solar energy: CLICK!
And more and more and more. Here are some miraculous stories from the Loess Plateau in China, from Ethopia and from Rwanda. The replanting of native, bio-diverse ecosystems has begun to restore aquifers and waterways, greening their deserts, rejuvenating depleted soils and returning their lands to abundance and economic sustainability. CLICK!
Is hunger caused by over-population? Like hell it is. In each of the above examples, high populations are in fact an advantage: more hands to do the work! Our problem is not about numbers; it is about old, stale and dysfunctional behaviors. I mean; entirely optional, replaceable – and frankly, dumb! – behaviors.
So: what about the Frankenfood/GMO thing? As it turns out; it’s not only seriously scary in terms of health and environmental outcomes. It is also an unnecessary ‘solution’ to a wrongly defined problem. We don’t need faster growing wheat, soya beans you can drown in poison, bigger bananas, potatoes-on-ice or zucchinis that play the piano.
OK, let’s be fair. The shareholders do need GMO, poor buggers. What if we all just gave them a big hug. Or something.
Meanwhile, the rest of us (can one of you go and find out what is 99% of 7 and-a-bit billion?) can be fed and watered by this earth most magnificently if we rely on natural farming methods, sustainable and wholistic land-management, better waste management, dietary improvements and more egalitarian distribution.
Hunger and malnutrition still affect many people around the world: it is horrific, inexcusable and begs our urgent attention. ‘Overpopulation’ is a false and inadequate explanation of the problem, and far from being a solution; GM food is a Trojan horse.
But food insufficiency is not the only rubber leg the ‘overpopulation’ myth stands on. The are more! Next week in Part 3 of this series, we delve into the second big myth about ‘overpopulation’. Until then, have fun watching some of the videos I mentioned, I think you will love them! See you in a week.