Thanksgiving, Food and Climate Change

Tomorrow, Thursday, November 24 is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. A holiday that has come to be associated with the grossest excesses in food consumption. I often think, people have come to see thanksgiving as a celebration of the fact that they have the ability to produce and waste so much food. The 1860 Thanksgiving Day edition of Harper’s Weekly Magazine depicted an image of the two great classes of people on that day, those who have more dinners than appetites, and those who have more appetites than dinners. Of course, one would note from the image, no black folks are displayed, the majority of whom would not have been able to eat as well as the poorest of the poor in the image.

Direct capture

According to the United Nations, “one-third of food production has been calculated to be still lost or wasted, and the world cannot afford a similar situation in the context of a global population that is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and of a steadily growing urbanization. Seventeen percent of food goes to waste worldwide, costing an estimated $936 billion annually. However, in the US alone, the USDA estimates Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food supply, corresponding to 133 billion pounds of wasted food with an estimated cost of $161 billion. This is more than enough to feed the estimated 811 million people facing acute hunger every day. In addition to the colossal waste of food in a world where so many go hungry, there are several other major consequences of this wastage. Food loss reduces the income of 470 million small farmers by as much as 15 percent. That’s because a significant percentage of the food loss is due to poor refrigeration in the transportation process from the farmer to the consumer.. Additionally, food loss and waste contributes to around 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.” One gigaton of CO2 was emitted from food waste in 2017, a major factor in global warming, one of the biggest threats to life on earth. We need to be more responsible food consumers, and just as important, remember those millions of our fellow human beings, a significant portion of whom live in Africa, who are going to bed hungry on Thanksgiving Day. Are we thankful for them or for just filling our bellies?

The March-May 2022 rainy season was the driest on record in the last 70 years making the 2020-2022 surpass the horrific droughts in both 2010-2011 and 2016-2017 in duration and severity and early forecasts indicate that the October-December 2022 rainy season is also likely to fail.

With your support, Read Horn of Africa will be able to provide immediate support to families impacting by the droughts. Your donation will help us provide food, water, and shelter to those in need.

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