World Food Day: Food Waste
Roughly 1/3 of all food produced globally is wasted, and with this lack of sustainability it drags many other resources as victims to wasteful consumption. Food requires different resources for its cropland/livestock, production and distribution. Agriculture uses around 70% of all freshwater resources, and the use of the earths ice-free land for food is roughly 12%. With levels of consumption rising with population growth, expansion is depleting our natural resources. The equation is a very clear imbalance; with high levels of food waste, our production and consumption levels rise. Nobody benefits from food waste, and carrying on as we are will result in further environmental degradation.
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge the difference between food ‘waste’ and food ‘loss’. Food waste, refers to food that has passed production and is often discarded of even though it is fit for human consumption. Examples of this includes the amount of food often disposed of by retailers, due to high standards of produce or the refusal to distribute their unsold items. The household is also a common abuser of produce, with many homes regularly discarding food due to over-buying, over-cooking or distrusting out-of-date items.
Food loss refers to produce that is ‘lost’ during farming, production, distribution and storage. This is mostly
due to a lack of investment in infrastructure. Developing countries, while their food waste levels are a lot lower, have higher levels of food loss due to these factors. Investing in infrastructure can tackle crop loss, improve storage & processing facilities and develop flood & drought management; ensuring food security and decreasing levels of loss.
If we consider our individual consumption that leads to food waste, we can put small practices in place that leads to an overall reduction; saving money as well as resources. Meal planning is an effective way to ensure you are using up all your ingredients and leaving no trace. This can also be implemented with making shopping lists and checking food cupboards to avoid over-buying or purchasing unnecessary items. As well as this, consider freezing your leftovers or food that may potentially go off in the time before you eat it. Avoid letting food end up in the bin, and if you do, take note of it; this will help you understand how much you are potentially throwing away!
Today, there are more organisations being set up that organise and participate in the practice of the redistribution of potential food waste. Food waste collectives use retailers end-of-day produce to donate to charities or give away to help those in need, which creates an all-round positive impact; fighting waste and helping others!
Fighting food waste is also becoming an available practice through the digital market. Apps such as Love Food Hate Waste publishes recipes and tips that can help manage your individual food consumption. This application is free and is easily accessible at any time.
The world population is set to increase to roughly 9.6 billion by the year 2050. With a third of our food currently being wasted, our production levels will rise, and food being lost or wasted will increase also. These levels are unsustainable and for real change, we need to create awareness. It happens too often that people throw away an item thinking that the impact of that individual product won’t make a difference. But if everyone was to change this, then the impact is incredibly large, and it can begin within your own home. The inputs such as water, land, energy and labour, can all be reduced. Environmentally, we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and help to prevent global warming. Celebrate World Food Day today and help tackle food waste!