Against the background of a growing world population, finite natural resources and numerous threats such as climate change and political conflict, securing world food supplies remains the challenge that the international community of states faces.
Roughly one third of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted – 1.3 billion tons per year. Even if these estimates are subject to numerous uncertainties, one thing is beyond doubt: every kilogramme of food that is produced but not consumed is one too many. For it embodies valuable, wasted resources such as land, water, agricultural inputs and energy, unnecessary CO2 emissions have been released into the atmosphere, farmers have lost not only income but also a valuable part of their nutrition, and consumers pay the increased prices that result. Our authors analyse the dimensions of these losses and the underlying complex web of causes and show how approaches have to be designed against the background of global challenges such as climate change and food security.
In its 2019 publication Food in the Anthropocene, the EAT-Lancet Commission described the link between nutritional targets and environmental sustainability. In brief, the study argues that diets and food production will need to change in order to improve health and avoid damage to the planet, emphasising that people will have to eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains while reducing the consumption of ruminant meat in particular. Setting out from this, the authors presented a proposition for a global reference diet. Whereas it is undisputed that the recommendations of the Lancet Commission point in the right direction, the question remains how the world population can be urged to take precisely this course.