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Food for thought

Evidently consumers in rich countries waste “almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Sarahan Africa” (about 200 pounds per consumer per year in the U.S. and Europe, compared to 12 to 24 pounds per person per year in Africa and Asia). And, overall, almost a third of total food production is lost to waste and spoilage.

This makes me think of Gary Becker’s response to the news that world population will reach 10 billion by the end of the century.

A couple of observations:

  1. It’s probably not surprising that people who live closer to the land waste less food than people who live farther from the land.  Not that that alone cancels out the waste produced by industrialization and centralization of food production, as well as excess food supply in the United States and Europe.
  2. It makes me wonder about food distribution systems in high-income urban and suburban communities in the United States compared to those systems in low-income urban and rural communities.  I wonder if there is a waste difference in those distribution systems, and I wonder if there is a waste difference in the consumers living in those different areas.
  3. Finally, it is kind of interesting to consider wealth in terms of available calories.  Just, you know, as a thought experiment.
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