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Food waste equal energy waste. The huge amount of agricultural and food production that rots in the field or ends up in landfills after being processed is not only an ethical and social problem, but also an energy problem. We wonder how to save energy to save money? Well, we could start here.
Italy, agro-food chain. Did you know that 3.2% of total agricultural production remains to rot in the field? We are talking about 1.5 million tons of food products which, to reach maturity, consumed the same amount of energy that could heat 400,000 highly efficient apartments. The comparison was made by the University of Bologna, very attentive to food issues, based on ENI data.
Also the University of Bologna, in collaboration with ENEA, has calculated that in Italy 3% of energy consumption depends on the food waste. To give this value a dimension of magnitude it can be compared to energy consumption of over one and a half million Italians or 85% of energy requirement of the industrial sector in Emilia Romagna.
Why it food waste is also energy waste? Because it takes an enormous amount of energy to produce, distribute and cook foods that, despite being still edible, become an unused surplus from the outset. Energy is consumed to create surpluses, the exact opposite of efficiency.
And we talked only about the production phase. Because if in the food waste we also put what we throw in the humid or that expires in the refrigerator at home, then the question takes on even more absurd contours. The University of Bologna has estimated that in Italy each family throws 49 kg of food in the garbage (in a year) due to inattention or because they are wrong to shop. In the world, FAO says, there are 870 million hungry or malnourished people; instead, 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
What to do? The trends highlighted by the studies show that the massive agriculture of the past decades under the banner of 'feed the people' has actually produced the opposite effect. The gap between those who can access food to the point of wasting it and those who do not have food has widened greatly, concentrating power in the hands of a few. Virtuous concepts are no longer the 'large scale' and 'intensive production'.
As a remedy for the food waste instead, new definitions appear: precision agriculture, organic agriculture, local production (at Km 0), and also the valorisation of agricultural and food waste for energy recovery (energy from biomass).
Technology is an ally. Information Technology, in particular, can make a major contribution to the rationalization of agricultural and food production against food waste and energetic. Above all in making production and transformation processes more efficient, and in the ability to accommodate the variability of demand thanks to the collection and processing of information in real time.
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