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Do We Eat Too Much for the World?

This is an part of an email that Patrick McKenna sent me in June 2018 after I had thanked him for a talk at Church Scientific in Leeds. I have added some emphasis.

"You hit the nail on the head with your comments, you address precisely the point I was planning on making. The small number of lucky people in the developed absolutely do eat far too much, the average Briton consumes 3600 calories per day. The WHO recommended amount is 2500 for men and 2000 for women.

"The emerging trend in the social sciences is to view the difference as waste, and if included then food waste in the UK passes 50% of that available.

"It's certainly desirable to reduce this, but complex, I agree. Why we do this is multidimensional, the poor tend to be a lot more overweight than the wealthy, environment and culture also play a role (poor areas tend to have a lot more fast food shops etc). I think one individual is overweight because they ate and sat too much, but why society is overweight is much more nuanced and, I fear, will be very difficult to change, at least as quickly as is needed.

"The push for sustainable intensification does not yet acknowledge how addressing this problem in the west is much more pressing than increasing crop yields. More food will not help in a world in which half is already wasted.

"This is why I referenced Paul, it's one of my favourites because it's clear, we must be strong in conviction and hold the right principles. I worry if the focus on yields in our part of the world just sidesteps the problem, is the wrong principle.

"The developing world is more straightforward, with improved knowledge and technology production could easily triple, farmers would make more money and hunger would come down. Food aid often amounts to food dumping and can harm the local economy, most of us agree this should be minimal, unless in crisis situations."

Copyright (c) Patrick McKenna and used by permission.

This page is an expression of part of a project to understand the links between climate change, global economy and other matters including society's beliefs and aspirations. It is designed to stimulate thinking and discourse. Comments, queries welcome.

This page is written on behalf of the CCGE Group by Andrew Basden, but the views expressed herein are his and not necessarily those of the other members of the Group. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2008 - present, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Created: 10 July 2018. Last updated: