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A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in mid 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

The 52:52:52 project, launching on this site and on social media in mid 2024, will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

This site addresses what's changing, at the personal, organisational and societal levels. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 elements of life, from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and much more besides, which will help you better prepare for related change in your own life.

What's Changing? - Poverty



Please see below selected recent poverty-related change.


See also:


April 2024

  • There appears to be a pattern of neglect and mistreatment of lower-income individuals, especially people in poverty. Students from lower-income families receive less positive attention from teachers. Lower-income customers receive worse treatment while shopping. Lower-income patients receive less care from physical and mental healthcare providers, and lower-income defendants often receive harsher punishments in the courtroom. More generally, people in poverty receive less help and less support interpersonally and institutionally across many domains of everyday life.


March 2024


January 2024

  • A report from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that poverty in the UK is deepening, and that escaping poverty has become significantly harder over the past two decades. The report highlighted that the average person living in poverty had an income 29% below the poverty line in 2021-22, compared with 23% in the mid-1990s. Signs of this trend can be seen in record high usage of food banks, temporary accommodation, and increasing reliance on charities for food and shelter. 


December 2023

  • The age of globalisation helped bring about huge reductions in the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme destitution. Currently, the World Bank defines that as an income of less than $2.15 a day at 2017 prices. The numbers in extreme poverty, so defined, fell from 1,870mn (31% of the world population) in 1998 to a forecast of 690mn (9% of global population) in 2023. The rate of decline has slowed sharply: from 2013 to 2023, the global poverty rate will fall by a forecast of a little over 3%. In contrast, it fell by 14% in the decade prior to 2013.
  • Rich countries are using the green transition as an excuse to boost their own economies at the expense of developing ones, exploiting outdated World Trade Organization rules, according to the UN’s trade chief. “Many trade rules forbid policies that can be used by developing countries. And the developed countries have more fiscal space to subsidise in the areas that are good for ‘quote, unquote’, the environment,” Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, told the Financial Times in an interview.


September 2023

  • The United Nations World Food Program warned of a “doom loop” of global hunger as it faces a 60% budget shortfall this year. Unless the WFP can make up the deficit, some 24 million people around the world could fall into emergency hunger situations as the program can no longer provide for them.


August 2023


July 2023

  • As many as 783 million people - nearly 10% percent of the global population - faced hunger in 2022, according to the UN. That number rose by more than 120 million since the last study in 2019. Conflict, climate fluctuations, and pandemic-related economic hardships were primarily responsible.
  • In a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 1 in 3 people making less than US$20,000 a year said they'd experienced "a great deal of stress" in the previous month. 70% said that money problems were to blame. Scientists have long recognised that poverty can aggravate health problems. Now they're also beginning to understand that the stress of too little income actually changes the way people think,


March 2023

  • Somalia’s longest-recorded drought claimed 43,000 lives in 2022, with up to 34,000 more deaths projected in the first half of 2023, according to a WHO report. The country has suffered several failed rainy seasons, and the crisis was exacerbated by rising global food price and reduced aid as donors prioritised Ukraine.


December 2022

  • The Human Development Report 2021/2002 from the UN Development Programme and Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022 from the World Bank showed that the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty (now measured at an income of less than $2.15 a day) fell from close to 60% in 1950 to 8.4% in 2019.


October 2022

  • A sweeping study delved deep into five centuries of data to question the assumption that prior to the broad proliferation of capitalism, most people had to endure extreme poverty. Its findings, according to one author, are “troubling but also inspiring”. Instead of focusing on more traditional measures like GDP per capita, the study examined trends around the world in terms of real wages, mortality and height (a physical manifestation of relative prosperity). The findings suggest the impact of capitalism on poverty was actually negative until workers were empowered and treated fairly.
  • At least 123 million people across Sub-Saharan Africa were food insecure by late 2022, according to a report by the IMF. The region was on the brink of economic recovery, but that changed since the war in Ukraine upended the global economy.


September 2022

  • Forecasts suggest the global poverty rate increased from 8.3% in 2019 to 9.2% in 2020, which would be the first rise in extreme poverty since 1998. This jump means an additional 93 million people around the globe entered poverty because of the pandemic.


July 2022

  • Inflation plunged 71 million people into poverty in the first half of 2022 alone, after the war in Ukraine exacerbated food and fuel prices across the developing world, according to a UN report.


June 2022


April 2022

  • Poorer countries face a perfect storm of debt problems, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund. The pandemic forced many developing countries to borrow heavily to manage the emergency. Sharp increases in food and fuel prices triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine made matters worse. China started lending less as it managed private-sector debt problems, a surge in COVID cases, and fears that existing debts to developing countries wouldn’t be repaid. Rising interest rates in the US and Europe also make borrowing more expensive for poorer countries, warned GZERO.


March 2022

  • Soaring UK poverty forcing people to use food banks created a “toxic environment” for their mental health, according to “heartbreaking” research. People pushed into poverty – by cuts and freezes to benefits, insecure and low-paying work, and rapidly increasing living costs – reported feeling “trapped, hopeless, and a burden on others”. The demand for emergency food in the UK was already increasing before the pandemic, with around 43% of households on universal credit struggling to afford or access enough food. By 2020, the number of parcels given out by independent food banks had doubled on the previous year. Demand continued to increase through 2021, and was still on an upward trend when the research was carried out.


February 2022

  • Analysis by the UK's Social Market Foundation found that companies are 64 times more likely to address environmental issues than to discuss poverty in their statements about Environmental, Social and Governance. And while companies have a statutory requirement to disclose the pay of top executives and pay ratios, this is normally buried in annual reports, and doesn’t make it into the ESG agenda or communication. Meanwhile, in-work poverty for full time workers is steadily rising. In London the proportion of households who are in poverty where at least one adult works full time increased 50% in a decade.  


January 2022

  • Max Roser of Our World in Data calculated that at a minimum the world economy needs to increase five-fold for global poverty to substantially decline. This would also achieve a massive reduction in global inequality: inequality between all the world’s countries would disappear entirely in this scenario. It should therefore be seen as a calculation of the minimum necessary growth for an end of poverty. A five-fold increase of the global economy is certainly not easy, but is also not impossible, argues Roser. It's what the world has achieved in the last five decades, and the IPCC expect even more growth for this century in their ‘Sustainability Scenario’, the one in which the world is most successful in avoiding climate change.
  • The world’s poorest countries faced a $10.9bn surge in debt repayments in 2022 after many rebuffed an international relief effort and instead turned to the capital markets to fund their responses to the coronavirus pandemic. A group of 74 low-income nations would have to repay an estimated $35bn to official bilateral and private-sector lenders during 2022, according to the World Bank, up 45 per cent from 2020.


August 2021

  • Poor diet causes one in five deaths worldwide, around 11 million deaths a year. The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, found that among 195 countries studied, the proportion of diet-related deaths was highest in Uzbekistan and lowest in Israel. The United States ranked 43rd, while Britain was 23rd, China 140th and India 118th. Consumption of healthier foods such as nuts and seeds, milk and whole grains was on average too low, and people consumed too many sugary drinks and too much processed meat and salt.


July 2021


March 2021

  • The Financial Times warned that even the indirect economic impacts of the pandemic have hurt many poorer countries more, even those that have avoided mass infection, as international tourists have stayed away and normal trade has been interrupted. The pandemic brought to an end decades of poverty reductions. Between 88m and 115m people fell back into extreme poverty - defined as living on less than $1.90 a day - in 2929, according to World Bank estimates.
  • Without government action, warned Oxfam, it will take over a decade for the number of people living in poverty worldwide to return to pre-pandemic levels
  • GZERO Media reported that about 70 percent of Syrians now live in poverty. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 30 percent of women have no income at all to support their families, and about 80 percent of Syrian youth struggle to afford food.
  • GZERO Media also warned that the number of people affected by acute hunger has been rising globally in recent years. Extreme climate events, displacement as a result of conflict, disease and other calamities have left around nine percent of the world's population hungry. Across East Africa, for example, locust swarms decimate crops, leaving millions of people without food. Humanitarian agencies warn that famines may be inevitable in a host of crisis-hit nations if current trends continue - and the pandemic has only deepened the problem.


December 2020

  • The UN warned that without massive investment by governments around the world, the economic effects of the pandemic and lockdowns could push an additional 207 million people into extreme poverty globally by 2030.
  • The Economist warned that the impacts would be felt already from 2021 onwards, The World Bank predicts that the pandemic will increase the ranks of the extremely poor, on less than $1.90 a day, by up to 150m. From 1990 until 2019 their numbers fell from 36% of the world’s population to 8%. Now they are increasing for the first time since 1998. The UN says 240m-490m people in 70 countries will be pushed into “multidimensional poverty”, a measure that includes lacking basic shelter or having children go hungry. Most of the newly destitute will be in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. City-dwellers will fare worse than the rural poor, because they cannot grow their own food and tend to work in informal sectors that have been slow to recover (for example, as maids or street vendors). Many saw their safeguards disappear in 2020. Remittances from family members abroad stopped. Many sold assets such as jewellery. Millions will return to their villages. Many children will leave school to go to work.
  • The world’s poorest could take a decade to recover financially from the pandemic, but a report by Oxfam shows it took the world’s top 1,000 billionaires just nine months to recoup their fortunes as the crisis lays bare “the greatest rise in inequality since records began”. The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires grew by $3.9tn between March and December 2020, helped by a rebound in stock markets. Meanwhile, the number of people living in poverty doubled to more than 500 million, prompting calls for governments to address inequalities caused by the pandemic, noted LinkedIn.
  • The health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a 40% spike in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance worldwide, the United Nations said. The UN said a record 235 million people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021. Calling on the world to “stand with people in their darkest hour of need”, the UN launched an appeal for $35bn (£26bn) next year to provide humanitarian aid around the world. The UN's emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said it was the bleakest and darkest assessment of humanitarian needs ever presented.
  • The economic and political crises in Venezuela have plunged 65 percent of households into poverty and caused widespread food and medicine shortages. As a result, 1.7 million desperate Venezuelans have spilled over into neighbouring Colombia, putting a massive strain on Colombia's already weak public infrastructure.


November 2020


October 2020

  • The economic impact of the pandemic will push an additional 150 million people into extreme poverty by next year, said the World Bank. This marks the first time since 1998 that global extreme poverty has risen. Upending decades of progress, the pandemic has already thrown about 100 million people into extreme poverty worldwide - the biggest reversal of fortune since the World Bank began tracking the trend in 1990. The bank estimated that from 703 million to 729 million were living on less than $1.90 a day in late 2020, with poverty making new inroads into urban areas and reaching those with higher levels of education for the first time. Further, the bank estimated that eight out of 10 people who fall into extreme poverty will be in middle-income countries.
  • A survey found that 44% of lower-income Americans said they had dipped into their retirement or other savings since the start of the coronavirus crisis, while only 16% of upper-income people said they had done so. As financial aid from the US Congress dried out, some 8 million more Americans were plunged into poverty in just six months of 2020, according to research by Columbia University. 
  • Only 12 percent of Latin American workers affected by the coronavirus crisis are eligible for government unemployment benefits, compared to some 44 percent of workers in North America and Europe. The IMF predicted that 15 years' worth of poverty alleviation in Latin America has now been undone because of the global economic crisis.


September 2020

  • At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank estimated that 49 million people -most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia - would be pushed into extreme poverty by Covid, undoing decades of progress. By late 2020, fresh data from the UN included even starker predictions: by 2021, 96 million people would be in extreme poverty.
  • Indeed, decades of work to narrow the poverty gap between men and women worldwide would be undone by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN warned. It said that more women than men will be pushed into impoverished lives by next year, with informal workers in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America among the worst hit. (In Latin America and the Caribbean COVID-19 was expected to push an additional 231 million people into poverty and wipe out decades of economic progress.)
  • Women are more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by lockdowns such as retail, restaurants and hotels and so have lost their jobs at a faster rate than men. According to UN estimates, the pandemic will push an extra 96 million people into extreme poverty by next year. For every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty in 2021 there will be 118 women, and the UN expects the gap to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030.
  • The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic would push 47 million women and girls into poverty in 2021. A UN report said that more women than men have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, while women and girls at most risk of becoming poor are those in subsistence-level occupations in the informal sector in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The coronavirus pandemic hit poorer countries harder than the rest of the world, sowing inequality globally, a BBC poll showed. The survey of nearly 30,000 people showed how different countries have been affected by the pandemic, six months after it was confirmed on 11 March 2020. The financial toll was a major issue, after lockdowns damaged economies worldwide. A drop in income was reported by 69% of respondents in poorer countries, in comparison to 45% in richer ones, the poll found. Overall, the research found that people in Latin America, Asia and Africa were more likely to say the virus had had a considerable impact on them than those living in Europe and North America. People in Kenya (91%), Thailand (81%), Nigeria (80%), South Africa (77%), Indonesia (76%), and Vietnam (74%) were most likely to have been affected financially.


August 2020


July 2020

  • Oxfam warned that, by the end of 2020, "12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to Covid-19 - potentially more than will die from the disease itself". The charity says a number of factors will cause an increase in hunger, including mass unemployment, food producers dealing with lockdowns, and difficulties distributing aid. Their report identified 10 "hunger hotspots": Yemen, DR Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, West African Sahel, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, and Haiti.
  • Productivity growth was slowing worldwide before coronavirus but the pandemic, coupled with the lockdowns imposed by governments to slow its spread, risks making the situation even worse noted the Financial Times. Not only will the added uncertainty reduce the appeal of business investment and trade but higher government and private sector debt levels will constrain their effectiveness too. Education has been interrupted as has progress in improving healthcare. A World Bank report, warned that this could undo decades of global poverty reduction.


June 2020

  • Economic damage caused by the pandemic could plunge 400 million more people into extreme poverty, according to a new study, with those in south and east Asia worst affected. The paper, published by the UN, lays out several scenarios to estimate the coronavirus impact on global earnings. In the worst-case scenario - a 20% loss of per capita earnings - the number of those living on $1.90 (£1.50) a day could rise to more than a billion. More than 3.7 billion people, over half the world's population, could also see their earnings fall below $5.50 a day.
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean could increase by more than 16 million to over 83 million by the end 2020 as a result of the pandemic-related economic crisis, said the UN. This would lead to a significant rise in hunger throughout the region unless urgent action is taken, warned the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.


May 2020

  • Up to 60m people will be pushed into "extreme poverty" by the coronavirus warned the president of the World Bank. David Malpass said the bank expects global economic growth to shrink by 5% this year as nations deal with the pandemic. This has already led to millions losing their jobs and businesses failing, with poorer countries feeling the brunt. "Millions of livelihoods have been destroyed and healthcare systems are under strain worldwide," he said. The World Bank defines "extreme poverty" as living on less than $1.90 (£1.55) per person per day.
  • Over the past 20 years, 100 million Latin Americans rose out of poverty. Now, the UN warns, as many as 24 million of them could slide right back.


April 2020

  • The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could plunge 500 million people into poverty, according to a report released by Oxfam. As incomes and economies continue to contract, global poverty will increase for the first time in 30 years, the report predicts, undermining many of the gains of globalisation that have pulled millions out of poverty in recent years.
  • In countries where people's income is tied so closely to daily work, it's much more difficult to simply order everyone to stay home or to enforce social distancing in densely populated urban slums. In India and Brazil, for example, between a fifth and a quarter of the urban population lives in slums, according to the World Bank. In Nigeria, the figure is 50 percent. Elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, it can soar above 70 percent. Shanty towns are less than ideal for social distancing.
  • Global unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be far worse than predicted, with 1.6bn workers in the informal economy facing “massive damage” to their livelihoods, the International Labour Organisation warned. The UN agency estimated that global working hours in the second quarter of the year would be equivalent to the loss of 305m full-time jobs compared with the end of 2019.
  • A UN official warned that as many as 29 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean could be plunged into poverty because of the economic pain caused by the coronavirus. Latin America's economy, which was expected to contract 5.2 percent in 2020, would be hit far harder than any other region, and could take up to a decade to repair. This would undo many of the social and economic gains of the past two decades that have pulled millions out of poverty.


March 2020

  • More than half the world is now middle class, rather than poor and vulnerable, according to the Brookings Institution, and the proportion is rising. 


January 2020

  • Some cities in drought-stricken Zimbabwe are now shutting down water supplies for up to 96 hours a week, prompting some desperate Zimbabweans to use untreated water, leading to a host of health problems.


December 2019

  • The global poverty rate fell significantly between 2010 and 2020, when almost 16% of people in the world lived on less than 2 dollars a day. Today the number is about 11% - a difference of about 400 million people.


June 2019

  • A study published by the African Child Policy Forum, an Ethiopian think tank, found that 60% of children across Africa don't eat often enough and that 90% don't meet the World Health Organisation's standard for a minimally acceptable diet. According to the report, hunger has stunted the growth of one in three African children, a startling statistic at a time of strong economic growth across much of the continent.


April 2019

  • A 2019 from the UN estimated that 94% of Venezuelans live in poverty today. Once South America's wealthiest country, Venezuela is experiencing one of the worst economic collapses ever recorded.
  • In North Korea, 11 million people, about 40% of the population, are undernourished. Chronic malnutrition has stunted the growth of an estimated 20% of the country's children. 


February 2019

  • An Indian nonprofit showed how free childcare at work could help disrupt the poverty cycle. In India, urban construction projects lure workers and their families from remote areas. The children of those families often wander about work sites without proper schooling, nutrition, or medical care. As Quartz explained, one nonprofit helped these children by offering onsite daycare, in a template that could work in other developing countries, too.
  • Nigeria already has the world’s largest population of people living in extreme poverty, and that number is set to soar over the next 10 years, warned GZEROMedia.


January 2019

  • Oxfam’s 2019 report on widening global wealth inequality made for stark reading. In 2018, Oxfam noted, just 26 rich individuals owned as much combined wealth as the poorest 50% of the entire global population. Since its 2018 report, moreover, that bottom half has become 11.1% poorer. At the same time, more people became billionaires, and the richest billionaires became even richer.


December 2018


November 2018


October 2018


September 2018

  • HumanProgress claims that World Bank data show the number and proportion of people in dire poverty worldwide has plummeted over the past two decades. In 1990, 35.5% of the world’s population (1.9bn people) lived below the equivalent of $1.90 (£1.47) per day. By 2013, this had fallen to 10.9%, or 782m. That’s the most rapid fall in poverty in global history.
  • However, as Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in the introduction to their 2018 Goalkeepers report, “decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling. This is because the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else; more babies are being born in the places where it’s hardest to lead a healthy and productive life. If current trends continue, the number of poor people in the world will stop falling—and could even start to rise.”
  • Furthermore, in 2017, there were nearly 40 million more people living in hunger than there were in 2015, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - a number that sets global progress against undernutrition back nearly a decade, despite a global, UN-led commitment to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. The increase isn’t just in absolute terms- percentage-wise more people starve today than they have since the early 2000s - 10.9% globally, and 20.4% in Africa.
  • The world’s priority should be reducing poverty in Africa, claimed Bill Gates, warning that economic models show 90% of people in extreme poverty could be in just that one continent. Indeed, if current trends hold, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will account for 44 percent of all people living in extreme poverty by 2050, according to a new Gates Foundation report. Today, they are home to around a fifth of the world’s poorest.
  • Meanwhile, over 20% of Indians still live on less than $1.90 a day. Rural wages have actually declined over the last two years, athough India has made extraordinary strides in poverty reduction in recent decades, positively more than 270 million poor (most of them in rural areas).
  •  A report from three Venezuelan universities estimates that 87 percent of the country’s households were living in poverty in 2017 and that 64 percent of Venezuelans lost weight last year at an average of 11.4 kilos, reported GZEROMedia.
  • IMF president Christine Lagarde noted that, given what we know about the future of work, how can anybody thrive in the modern economy without at least a secondary education? As H.G. Wells put it, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” According to UNESCO, world poverty would be cut in half if all people completed secondary education. 
  • Who is voluntourism for? It’s now hugely popular for those living in wealthy countries to visit poorer ones—often specifically to offer help, playing with orphaned children or building community structures. But voluntourism has become a for-profit activity, Tina Rosenburg reports for the Guardian, and often does local communities more harm than good.
  • Further reading:


August 2018

  • A monthly poll of public attitudes in 28 countries found that 56% of respondents felt their countries were on the wrong track, with unemployment and poverty/inequality topping the list of complaints. 


July 2018


June 2018



May 2018


April 2018


March 2018


January 2018

  • Quartz analysed Brazil’s audacious plan to lift children out of poverty, a "wildly ambitious" national programme that’s set to offer parent coaching to four million low-income pregnant women and their children by 2020.
  • Nigeria passed India to become home to the most people living in extreme poverty in early 2018, according to a recent Brookings analysis. Six Nigerians join the ranks of the world’s poorest every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.
  • More than half of Afghanistan’s population – 55 percent – now lives below the poverty line, according to a national survey. That’s up more than twenty points since 2008, according to a study done by the Afghan statistics bureau. The increase is tied to deteriorating security conditions, particularly since the withdrawal of NATO troops between 2012-2014, as well as reductions in international aid, according to GZEROMedia. 
  • About 14.8 million Brazilians now live in extreme poverty, an increase of 11 percent since 2016, according to GZEROMedia.



  • Every day, 217,000 people rise out of extreme poverty globally,
  • The Economist suggested that extreme poverty could be largely eradicated in 20 years, though the comments to its piece make it clear that not everyone is so optimistic.
  • The world has already made great progress in reducing extreme poverty – nearly 1.1 billion people have escaped extreme poverty since 1990. Still, nearly 800 million people live on less than $1.90 per day, and reaching them will become harder and harder as we get closer to 2030. Reducing inequality is a key component to making growth work better for the poorest, and helping millions across the globe improve their lives.
  • 2011 was the first since the industrial revolution where less than 1 billion people were living in extreme poverty in the world (as defined by living on less than $1.90 a day). Since then, the number of people living in poverty has continued to decline drastically. Today, 6.6 billion of the world’s 7.3 billion people do not live in extreme poverty.
  • Jacaranda Health provides high quality and affordable maternity clinics for low-income women in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Who Does Global Poverty Threaten examined a growing tendency to view global poverty as a threat not to the acutely poor but to elites in the global North. Unchecked migration, terrorism, and disease vectors are seen as manifestations of that threat, against which elites now seek.
  • Data from the World Development Indicators also help monitor the SDGs. For example, these World Bank's poverty data are based on primary household survey data obtained from government statistical agencies.
  • For all the detailed tools developed to study finance in past decades, relatively few scholars have brought those methods to bear on a pressing social question: how do poor people manage their finances? A long-term study of the poor in small Thai villages tried to shed light on the issue.
  • About 925m people still go around the world still go hungry every day.  At the same time, agriculture’s share of global development aid has dropped from 16% in 1980 to 4% today; in sub-Saharan Africa, just 4% of the cultivated land is equipped for irrigation; and in poorer nations worldwide 25-50% of the harvest spoils before it reaches the table.