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Bill Dando holds the two-volume set he wrote on climate change and our food supply.

Photo by Jim Avelis/The Tribune Star, Terre Haute, Ind.
CNHI News Service

The finest hours in grocery shopping arrive after 10 p.m.

Supermarkets are fully aglow yet almost vacant, like a “Twilight Zone” episode. You and your cart can roam the aisles without constantly saying, “Excuse me.”

Most importantly, you’re done eating for the day and make smarter buys.

Lots of food in America ends up in the trash.

The extent of the waste is surprising, according to farm experts gathering in Chicago for the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit. Based on the Reuters statistics, you might as well conclude your next grocery shopping run by throwing away three of your dozen eggs. (A whopping 23 percent of them get discarded by the U.S. consumers.)

In fact, pull out $40 worth of your entire produce purchase and drop it in the garbage can. (The average American pitches 33 pounds of food — totaling about 40 bucks — monthly. That calculates to 400 pounds a year.)

Sound crazy?

It’s true. Approximately 40 percent of food produced in the world gets wasted.

“And nobody cares about it,” said Bill Dando, quietly.

In general, of course. A new two-volume book, “Food and Famine in the 21st Century,” explores the causes, effects, history and future of food crises.

Among the many findings, a few conclusions defy the general public’s common misperceptions.

Despite the vast amount of food that goes uneaten, hunger exists, even in the U.S. An estimated 1.2 billion people are malnourished, according to Dando’s book.

Worldwide, political maneuvers cause famine and hunger. Governments use “food as a weapon” by withholding it and blocking or restricting its delivery, Dando said.

By contrast, in America, people go hungry because of neglect.

“The reason that we have a lot of problems is neglect,” he explained. Fifty million Americans live in households that are “food insecure.”

Even though, as Dando put it, “There should not be famine on the surface of the Earth,” the predicament may only grow worse. By 2050 — just 38 years from now — the global population will balloon from the present 7 billion to 9.5 billion.

Much of that population growth will unfold in impoverished urban areas of developing and Third World countries, he said.

“The United States cannot feed the world,” Dando said. “There are just too many people.”

The only solution is to work together, he said.

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Mark Bennettis a reporter for The Tribune Star in Terre Haute, Ind. Contact him at mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

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