Waste less, feed more
There would be no question of them having gold-plated cars made for themselves while children, trapped in the fighting in Syria and Afghanistan, are picking crumbs of bread off the streets. There would be no inequality of income and no social injustice. Those who carelessly spend the money of the poor would disappear. But lovelessness leads to this frightful picture; and because of that people prefer waste to sharing.
Around 800 million people in the world are going hungry. Meanwhile, 1.5 billion are wrestling with obesity and 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year across the world. Total food production in sub-Saharan Africa is 230 million tons but that same quantity of food is thrown away every year in developed countries. According to a study by Stuttgart University in Germany, the Germans throw away 11 million tons of food a year. That means that a German throws away 235 euros’ worth of food every year. That is equivalent to the annual income of 1.5 billion people in the world.
The scale of the waste across the world is stunning. Around 30 percent of the food produced in the world is wasted without being consumed. In other words, one-third is thrown away without ever reaching the table. Approximately 40 percent of the food produced in the US is never eaten, while 100 million tons of food is never consumed in Europe every year. The economic value of the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year is $1 trillion.
The conclusion to be drawn from these horrifying figures is clear enough; according to World Bank reports, enough food is thrown away in developed countries to feed 15 times the number of people who starve to death in the world. In other words, the problem is not one of hunger or famine, but of lovelessness and carelessness. Children are not essentially dying from hunger, but are rather losing their lives as a result of this dreadful system.
An excellent story on the subject of waste emerged from France last week. Under a law passed by the French National Assembly, foodstuffs remaining in the hands of wholesalers will no longer be thrown away. It will also be illegal to make unsold food unfit for consumption. Foodstuffs that are not sold will either have to be given away or used as animal feed or fertilizers. Supermarkets with a floor space exceeding 400 square meters will have to sign agreements with charities over food donations.
France is a country where some 20-30 kg of foodstuffs are thrown away per capita. It is estimated that seven kilos of this is never even opened. In financial terms that waste corresponds to 12-20 billion euros. There is no need to point out how important this money would be to an African country wracked by poverty. The step taken by France is therefore an important policy that needs to be adopted by other countries. The fact that those who fail to comply will face imprisonment or heavy fines is also a significant deterrent.
There is also the question of Muslim countries that are quiet on this subject, even though Almighty Allah explicitly declares waste a sin in the verse, “Eat and drink, but do not be profligate. He does not love the profligate.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 31)
One would hope that the main steps for the prevention of waste would come from Muslim countries. One would hope that they would exhibit an exemplary sensitivity to the world, and that the poor in the world could thus be enriched. Sadly, however, a great many people in the world think only of themselves. The word for that is egoism.
Is it such precautions that are the main thing needed to prevent waste? Of course these will have an effect, since they also involve penalties. But a scourge such as waste can only be eradicated by people abandoning their selfishness and greed. There is only one way to achieve that — love. There is no way of teaching someone without love about affection, protectiveness, sharing and the happiness that derives therefrom. He will not be in the least bit interested in people dying from want or hunger in other countries or outside his own door. Therefore, those who wish to draw attention to the tragedy of this hunger going on before the eyes of the world must start by teaching people love.
Organizations and activists fighting hunger in the world must first introduce people to the beauty of affection, and then show them the way. There is no other way of getting people who are obsessed with their own preoccupations and disregard anything but their own existence to see the tragedy being played out.
The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya
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