Food waste starts with little things- like discarding the first and last slices of bread or cutting off the pizza crust before eating. Unknowingly, our little habit contributes to 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted yearly. Food waste usually begins with us.
Each year, more than one third of food produced globally does not get eaten. That’s a lot of food, especially when you attribute economic figures to it. In industrialized countries, these losses amount to about US$ 680 billion while in developing countries, it amounts to US$ 310 billion.
When food gets wasted, a lot is also lost. Resources such as land, water, soil, and seeds which were used in production become futile. Another impact of food waste is climate change. When food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, wasted food contributes 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
To put some perspective on how much of an issue food wastage is, here are some facts about it:
- 25% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- If food wastage was a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China and the USA.
- In the U.K., 100 million pints of milk go down the drain every year.
- Throwing away one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower.
- The food currently wasted in Africa could feed 300 million people yearly.
- In 2013, “ugly” fruits and vegetables were blamed for up to 40 % of wasted food.
- 50% of food wastage takes place in our homes.
- It takes 53 gallons of water to produce a single egg, which is enough to fill a large bathtub. When you waste an egg, you’re wasting a lot of water too.
There are various reasons why food wastage is on the high and below are some of them:
- A lot of people discard good food just because they’re “ugly.” If the fruits and vegetables don’t meet standard shape, size, or color, they get discarded. If 100 people reject one fruit because it’s not good looking, that’s 100 fruits and all the resources used to make that fruit, simply discarded.
- Believe it or not, your large refrigerator might be contributing to food waste. Studies suggest that having a big refrigerator makes you more likely to forget about the food you have, to store them improperly, or to buy more than you need.
- Purchasing food in large quantity to save yourself multiple trips to the store could also result to food waste. Also, supermarket promos can lead people to buy more than they actually need just because they believe they’re getting more for their money.
- Sometimes, food companies produce more food than needed, perhaps in anticipation of a high sales year; and restaurants cook more food than necessary so that the dish on the menu card is available. When they don’t sell these food items, they end up wasted.
Although we are a long way from eradicating food waste, here are some of the ways we suggest to reduce food waste:
Balance Food Production with Demand:
Industries such as hotels and restaurants should make sure their food production matches its demands. This will help to reduce excess food production. For example, hotels and restaurants can run on an order – cook based on number of orders.
Better Food Storage System:
Poor storage facilities leads to the loss of food. Even with the right storage facilities such as refrigerators, not everyone knows the right temperature to store certain foods. This could lead to premature ripening or cause the food produce to rot.
Food Wastage Campaigns and Initiatives:
There are currently some companies which exist to curb global food waste. One of such is OLIO. Olio is a mobile sharing app which connects neighbors and local businesses with each other so surplus food can be shared and not thrown away. Then, there’s also Imperfect Produce and Oddbox who deliver only “ugly” food produce, all in an effort to reduce global food wastage.
Grow Your Own Food:
When you know how much it takes to actually toil and make food, you’ll appreciate it more. Also, you won’t have to buy excess in the grocery store because of the flat rate, you can simply pluck exactly how much you need.
- Have a First in First Out system where the first thing in the fridge is the first thing out.
Be a Smart Shopper:
Write a list when you go shopping and try to stick to it. Avoid impulse buying when shopping for food.
You can also do your part towards reducing food waste by creating awareness. You can start by sharing this post with your family and friends.