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End To Hunger Out Of Thin Air?

DID you know that hunger is the #1 cause of death in India and the world? Shocking, isn’t it? Especially as we produce more than enough food to feed the 7.4billion people on this planet. Despite that, 815million people go to bed hungry and 194.6 million of those reside in India.

So, why are people still going hungry?

Food waste is the short answer – roughly 1/3 of all food produced is not eaten. In India, the 67million tonnes of food wasted annually is enough to feed a country like Egypt for an entire year. Forty per cent of fruits and vegetables don’t even reach consumers because of inefficient storage or transport or are wasted on shelves as a result of over-production or other distribution issues.

What is being done?

Solutions have been sought for decades, but over the last 25 years, giant strides were made when the world adopted the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to halve the number of people suffering from hunger. The United Nations followed up on that success in 2015 with a new goal to end hunger by 2030.

And now a solution may have been found – literally out of thin air. We’re happy to report that a Finnish research group led by professor Juha-Pekka Pitkänen has created a protein that may be just be able to alleviate world hunger!

The protein can be produced by using electricity from renewable energy (for example, solar energy) and carbon dioxide – a technology that can be easily transported to famine-stricken places.

It also frees food production from environmental limitations such as temperature and soil type.  As Prof Pitkänen explains: “In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air. In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine.

“One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance that the consumer can use to produce the needed protein.”

Play a role in ending global hunger

However, the project has yet to be piloted, and, at this point, just one gram of protein takes two weeks, to produce with lab equipment just the size of a coffee cup.

 So what can we do personally while we wait for this seemingly magic bullet to be tested and improved for commercial production? The UN estimates that if we save just 1/4 of the food currently lost or wasted globally, it would be enough to feed 870million hungry people. So:

  • Plan your meals and purchase only what you need for the week.
  • Don’t shop hungry so you don’t impulse buy more than you can eat.
  • Prioritise your food by eating perishable items first and regularly checking expiration dates.
  • Prep your food to use as much of the product while producing as little waste as possible.
  • Cook small portions to avoid making excess food.
  • Serve yourself only what you can eat and eat what’s on your plate.
  • Be creative and repurpose leftovers for your next meal. Add extra daal or vegetables to stuffed parathas, pilaus, or samosas; put your lentils in a salad for extra protein; or make plain rice into a stirfry or fried rice.
  • Compost spoilt food.
  • Recycle food not fit for human consumption as cattle feed.

Find a local foodbank to whom you can donate uneaten food after parties or weddings.

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