What are the effects of food waste, commercial agriculture, and chicken meat production to the environment?
Food production is a process that entails converting raw food materials into ready-made foods for human consumption either in the food processing industries or the home environment. The process entails various activities ranging from cleaning, sorting, segregating, preparing, sorting, and adding any relevant ingredients in the right proportions before presenting the prepared foods to the market (Teja et al. 55). For efficiency in the food production process, sustainability in the production process is always considered an important element in meeting all the demands and challenges experienced. Sustainability in food production entails producing food to meet the needs of the current generation without altering the needs of the future generations to meet their needs (De Zeeuw et al. 154). Futhermore, the last one decade has been characterized by the introduction of various agricultural technologies that have improved commercial agricultural activities in the Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs).
Due to increased production, the supply for food has exceeded its demand in most of the LEDCs, thus leading to food waste (Cofie et al. 17). Poor storage facilities and technologies have also led to massive food wastes in these countries. As such, stakeholders have also been working towards improving the type of investments done in chicken meat production and the existing food storage technologies as a way of reducing the amount of food waste that is experienced in these countries. As such, this assessment seeks to find out the impact that food waste, commercial agriculture, and chicken meat production have had on the environment in the LEDCs.
What are the effects of food waste, commercial agriculture, and chicken meat production on the environment?
Both primary and secondary data collection methods were used in collecting the right data for this study. Some of the primary data collection methods that were used during the study included comprehensive and detailed interviews that were meant to provide important data and information on the study question. The interviews were conducted to various stakeholders in the food production process ranging from farmers to managers working in the food processing plants. Consumers were also targeted during the interviews as they offered important information on how they dispose of their food wastes. Questionnaires were also administered to the target population that did not have time for interviews. Other important information that was collected included information on the availability of raw materials, availability of finances, and training on how to deal with food production waste. Non-participative observations and informal discussions with key informants in the food production sector were used to collect the required data for this study. On the other hand, some of the secondary data sources included books, periodicals, journals, and reports. Annual reports and statements from the food processing plants were also as part of the study data.
Being a qualitative type of study, the most appropriate data analysis methods included content and narrative analysis. Content analysis entailed categorizing and summarizing all the information obtained into subtopics. The use of narrative analysis involved formulating the stories given by the study participants based on their experiences on poor food disposal and the effects that are brought by the same on the environment. Descriptive statistics were also used to analyze and present the study data. These two data analysis methods were extensively used to make the collected data meaningful to the study targets.
The results presented in this section are based on the questions that were developed for purposes of achieving the study objectives.
- Do food waste, commercial agriculture, and chicken production for meat affect the environment negatively?
From the results produced from this study, 80% of the participants were aware that these activities affected the environment negatively, 11% were confident that they did not affect the environment and 9% were not sure if the activities affected the environment or not.
- Do you feel that the government is doing enough to deal with the issues brought about by these happenings?
Looking at the perception that the research population had on the activities, 60% had a feeling that the government was not doing well to deal with the negative effects while 40% felt the government was doing good in protecting the environment from these negative effects.
- Do food waste, commercial agriculture, and chicken production for meat affect the economy?
The results of the study showed that 55% of the population is aware of the negative effects brought about by the activities while 42% could not relate the negative effects on the economy. Three percent of the population did not know whether the activities impacted the economy or not.
- What are some of the negative effects brought about by these practices?
|Effects on the environment||Effects on the economy|
|Pollution (land and water)||High waste maintenance costs|
|Loss of biodiversity|
|Wastage of fertile land and water|
|Increased carbon footprint|
The research identified various effects of food waste disposal including biodiversity loss, wastage of approximately one-third of the world fertile land areas, bluewater footprint, increased carbon footprint, and some economic consequences.
Most of the participants in the research indicated biodiversity loss in the LEDCs as one of the key effects of food waste. For farmers to maximize their production, they always engage in expanding their farms by invading into the forested areas as they search for fertile lands. Some of the methods that are used to clear the forested areas during the expansions entail either slashing or burning vegetation, a practice that leads to massive biodiversity loss. By converting forested areas to farmlands, farmers always destroy natural habitats for fish, birds, amphibians, and mammals. On the other hand, some of the agricultural practices that are adopted by farmers as a way of improving their productivity like mono-cropping in most of the LEDCs also contribute towards biodiversity loss (Teja et al 56).
The research identified that most of the excessive food that is produced comes from approximately 1.4 billion hectares of land from all over the world. Due to this, an approximated 1/3 of world agricultural land is being used for waste food that cannot be accounted for, thus exposing a large portion of the fertile lands to waste. It would have been appropriate if this large portion of land was used for more productive means that would benefit humanity in different ways (Tjeerd, and Herbert 50).
Blue water footprint is the quantity of freshwater from all freshwater resources that are consumed in producing food that goes to waste. Commercial and domestic agriculture are some of the agricultural activities that use large water quantities. As such, when an approximated thirty percent of the produced food is termed as waste, it means that approximately thirty percent of the world’s fresh water that was used in its producing and processing was wasted (Drechsel, Quansah, and Penning De Vries). The literature reviewed during the research stated that approximately 250 cubic kilometers of water go to waste in the form of food waste.
Waste food contributes significantly towards the global greenhouse gas emissions, thus being part of the factors that accelerate global climate change. Food waste has been considered the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases around the globe. The disposal of waste food is linked to the generation of methane gas that in turn accelerates the occurrence of climate change and global warming in the LEDCs (Stockdale et al 265).
Food waste has also been linked to a number of economic effects. Dealing with the environmental effects of food waste and commercial agriculture requires the concerned stakeholders to invest in various programs and projects to deal with. Most of the projects that have been initiated because of food waste have led to a lot of capital being used to organize and run them adequately and in the right way (Parfitt, Mark, and Sarah 3066). Investing in extensive agriculture has also been considered as an expensive exercise that requires a lot of capital from the farmers.
Most of the chemicals that are used in commercial agriculture have been linked to having massive effects on the environment. The chemicals and compounds found in pesticides and agricultural fertilizers have had massive effects on the environment because they are non-biodegradable and are swept by runoff into the water bodies, thus affecting the marine environment negatively (Hedley, Ji, Stewart, and Chauh 972).
Chicken meat production is amongst some of the farming that affects the environment around where the production is done. The production affects the quality of drinking water, air, soil, fish, and wildlife.
Surface run-off from regions where chickens are reared gets contaminated with chicken waste and manure. The run-off ends up contaminating both ground and surface water that happen to be the main sources of drinking water. The presence of algae blooms from the run-off always lead to increased Pfiesteria piscicida microbe growth that sickens both humans and animals when taken through drinking water. Chicken manure also contains nitrogen that is easily changed into nitrate when it gets into water sources (Gustafsson et al.). Nitrate contamination in water negatively affects those who take it through the blue baby syndrome, a very fatal condition.
Having a large chicken farm leads to the creation of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, poultry dust, and bad odor that affect the environment negatively. Poultry dust contains bacterial toxins and bacteria as well as chicken debris that affect the quality of air in a significant way. The presence of these particles and gases around the poultry farms exposes those living near the production farms to breathe in polluted air (Nugent 70).
The production of massive chicken manure improves the number of nutrients in the soil and the soil structure. Despite chicken manure being termed as positive to the soils, excessive production could lead to soil contamination through surface runoff. Chicken manure has also been said to be a significant source of heavy metals, salts, hormones, and trace anti-biotics in the soil (Steinfeld, Wassenaar, and Jutzi 510). The presence of chicken manure on soil has more negative effects as opposed to the positive effects that it has on the soil.
The vast quantities of fecal waste that are produced in chicken production farms combined with chicken feathers, dead chickens, and bedding have been considered highly detrimental to the wildlife and fish ecosystems as they are difficult to manage as compost and in landfills. Managing waste from chicken production and land over-fertilization from chicken production farms is always difficult and ends up being carried off by surface runoff to ponds and lakes, thus affecting the marine ecosystems. The presence of algae blooms in water bodies always reduce sunlight penetration, thus cutting off the oxygen supply to both marine plants and marine life through eutrophication (Liu et al. 234).
The results of this research have indicated that food waste in LEDCs, commercial agriculture, and chicken meat production brings massive negative effects on the environment. Some of the effects that are associated with food waste include massive environmental pollutions, affecting the quality of water and air amongst those living in the environments where these activities are taking place. Massive biodiversity loss has also been experienced in areas where these activities take place.
To reduce the consequences of some of the effects brought about by these activities, a number of strategies need to be carried out including introducing policies that limit the use of chemicals that affect the environment and developing effective disposal strategies that will have minimal effects on the environment. Developing awareness programs that will help farmers understand the effect of their actions on the environment will be a significant step towards dealing with most of the negative effects.