Based on FAO (2017) definition food waste is:
“Food loss and waste is a decrease at all stages of the food system from production to consumption, in mass and/or quality, of food that was originally intended for human consumption, regardless of the cause.”
However, there are social differences in understanding if some food is comestible or not, and there is no clear accord on how much food waste is eatable in terms of the percentage of the wasted food. But all of this is frightening!
Food waste is, in many ways, a systemic issue rather than the fault of just one entity. To solve it, different participants will need to coordinate and collaborate in harmony to reach the goal. The major problems can be summarized in lack of awareness of the problem and the solutions at hand, inadequate supply chain infrastructure, supply chain inefficiency, weak collaboration across the value chain, insufficient regulations.
Developed nations experience the greatest share of food waste towards the end of the value chain as food becomes abundant and consumers more picky, affluent and wasteful.
Why it’s so important to reduce food waste?
The impact of food waste is massive for many different reasons:
“Reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do to reverse global warming.” – Chad Frischmann, Climate Change Expert
The planet is our home and we must protect it. The most serious consequences are energy loss, environmental damage, money issue, worst prospect for future generation. For example, with changes in the water cycle, in many places water availability will become less predictable, while in others we will see severe flooding drown crops or contaminate water sources (UNWater, 2019; Haddaland et al., 2013; Schewe et al., 2014). As freshwater becomes scarcer, food can no longer be irrigated and crops will no longer productively yield the right amount to sustain communities (Gosling & Arnell, 2013; Hanjra & Qureshi, 2010; Fischer et al., 2006). This may result in mass migration and violent conflict (Reuveny, 2007; Perch-Nielsen et al., 2008), while climate refugees from underdeveloped countries will be amongst the first to suffer. Undoubtedly, climate change will impact humanity even further through increased pandemics (Swiss Re, 2016), diseases (WHO, 2003) and health issues that will spread across vast territories (NRDC, 2017; McMichael et al., 2006; IIASA, 2018).
There some statistical data on wasted food categories:
- Fruits and vegetables: 644 million tons thrown away (42%);
- Cereals: 347 million tons thrown away (22%);
- Roots and tubers: 275 million tons thrown away (18%);
- Dairy: 143 million tons thrown away (9%);
- Meat: 74 million tons thrown away (5%);
- Oil seeds and pulses: 50 million tons thrown away (3%);
- Fish and seafood: 22 million tons thrown away (1%).
WE can respond to ourselves to change the situation.
Tips & Tricks
- CREATIVE RECIPE
If you love cooking, this can be so easy. Create new recipes with excess or overdue food and arrange a special meal for your loved ones.
Freezing food once is great, defrosting and then refreezing isn’t recommended. Unless you live with a big family, we recommend you freeze the food in small portions, using containers that are the right size for the job. Almost all food can be frozen: when in doubt, google it.
- ORGANIZE YOUR SHOPPING AND MEALS
It’s a good tip to write the shopping list before going to the supermarket and not to let things get out of hand! An another is to schedule meals for the week in order to have empty mind and full stomach.
- DATE LABELING
Did you know that 80% of consumers in the US report that they reject food prematurely due to confusion around date labels? As well as being a major source of confusion, date labels are a huge contributor of food waste. You can pay more attention on that!
- TRUST YOUR SENSES
To determine if your food is safe to eat beyond the date label, you can use your senses, look, smell and taste – before you waste. Many times, company are forced to use shorter expiry dates then the real to be on the safe side.