Poland: Food Waste and Meat Consumption

It's always interesting to see how environmental ills affect other regions. A report out of Poland says that food waste is a problem there, too. Approximately 4 million tons of food will be wasted in Poland this year, while over 2.5 million people will suffer from poverty and undernourishment. Hard to wrap your mind around? There are similar contrasts here in the US. The New York Times reported recently that the average height of Americans has steadily fallen in recent years, leaving our height below that of the average Western European. (Remember John McCain's remark about the height difference between North Koreans and South Koreans?) Height trends in the US can't be accounted for by changes in the population due to immigration.

The real answer may be that Northern European countries do a better job of spreading the wealth and taking care of their children. “We conjecture that perhaps the Western and Northern European welfare states, with their universal socioeconomic safety nets, are able to provide a higher biological standard of living to their children and youth than the more free-market-oriented U.S. economy,” wrote John Komlos, professor of economics at the University of Munich.

In other words, Americans are shorter because--in a society where huge amounts of food go to waste every day--many people do not have proper nutrition or health care.

The Polish report goes on to talk about meat consumption: in this respect, Poland differs from the US, where nutritionists and environmentalists alike are trying to enocourage people to eat less meat.

According to a report by the European Commission published in May 2008, as many as 35 percent of Poles admit that they can’t afford a meal containing meat, poultry or fish at least every other day. This is one of the worst results in the whole of the EU.

In the US, it's probably easier to get meat products (though they may not be of high qualtiy), but does that serve us any better? It's hard to imagine what prices would be like without the government subsidies at play in our food system.

Yet Poland might be ahead of the game when it comes to local food: an agricultural system based upon smaller farms is adapting to the trend towards organic produce.

Hat tip to: Jonathan Bloom's Wasted Food Blog

Tags: Agriculture, Diet, Europe, Meat, Nutrition, Poland, Poverty

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