Human activities such as industrialisation, urbanisation and food production are key contributors to the global warming crisis. Food production accounts for a quarter of all global carbon emissions. The extreme weather patterns caused by global warming pose a severe threat to farming and agriculture around the world.
As the global population grows exponentially, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that there will need to be a 60% increase in food production by 2050. This intensification of farming will need to be done without increasing farmland and by minimising food waste.
Food waste needs to be curbed
Alternative methods of farming are already being used, such as community farming, that are making agriculture more sustainable. However, these other methods cannot produce as much food as commercial farming. According to the FAO, the commercial farming sector currently produces 50% more food than is needed to feed the global population. The problem with hunger and food shortages comes from wastage.
Almost one-third of food produced is wasted because of the current supply system, a distorted distribution network and unhealthy diets. Not only will food production need to intensify in the future, but societies will need to change their consumption and waste habits. Recycling food waste can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle and feed more people at the same time.
Recycling food waste to create a circular economy
Experts agree that food consumption needs to become more circular. This means that organic food waste should be used for composting and the production of biogas, instead of being sent to landfills. Vegetable scraps, fruit peels and pips should be used to create a natural fertiliser for gardens and farms.
The idea of composting is gaining popularity in South Africa. Many households and hotels already use composting as a sustainable practice. Now, even some businesses, office blocks and shopping malls are investing in industrial composting machines to create organic fertiliser for their gardens and collect methane gas to complement their power supply.
Some experts also suggest that food waste can be treated and used as animal feed. While some countries have banned this practice on hygiene grounds, it could be a viable solution to creating a more circular economy with discarded food. It also means that less grain will need to be grown to feed livestock, and that farmland can be used to grow food for humans.
Recycling our food and changing our waste habits is an important step in addressing many issues. It will unlock the value of food waste and help to make agriculture more sustainable. Not only will recycling food lead to healthy gardens and crops, but it can also help to save the planet from further effects of global warming.
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