Do you like food? If there would be a full room of people and I would present them with this question asking those who do to raise their hands, what would happen? I think only few hands would stay down and only because people didn’t get the questions: “Why would someone even ask that?”
Around a year and a half ago me and two of my friends decided to write a project on efforts to minimize waste. Our main subject was paper and then plastic, but the more research I made, the more I understood how big of a problem is food waste. Since then I am trying to learn more and here I want to drop some “fun” facts about food waste:
- Globally there is enough food produced to feed everyone on this planet, but we lose and waste 33-50% of food yearly, which is around 1.3 billion tons.
Can you imagine how much it that? That is the food that don’t reach our tables and is never eaten. And let’s talk about the fact that me and you, a person who is reading this article now on a smartphone or computer, are probably the ones that can actually afford 3 meals a day, meanwhile 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.
- 45% of produced fruit and vegetables, roots and tubers are wasted globally. 35% of fish and sea food. 20% of meat as well as the same amount of produced dairy products. 30% of cereals are lost every year;
- In Europe alone 88 million tons of food is wasted and we can also talk about the economic side of this, which makes up to 143 billion euros;
- Evidence shows that in low-income countries biggest loss of food occurs in production, though in developed countries main issue is consumption – around 100 kilograms per person per year are wasted;
And consumption comes to us, people so we cannot blame it all on farmers, supermarkets or any companies in the food supply chain.
- At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance.
We don’t buy the food that looks bad, that is why companies now don’t even try selling them to people;
- It takes a land mass larger than China to grow the food each year that is ultimately never eaten;
- Food waste = water waste. Estimated 25% of fresh water is used for the production of food that won’t be eaten;
- If food waste would be a country on our globe, it would be 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (like methane, which is even worse than carbon dioxide), just behind China and USA;
Okay, that is probably enough. My point is that food waste is not only economic issue, it is wrong on many other levels. It is ethical and environmental problem too. With wasting food we also waste the land that was used to produce that food (with all the flora and fauna that has been affected by the food industry, indigenous populations that have been moved,). We waste water, labor and energy that has been oriented to create the food (all those people using their time and effort in the making, when they could use their time for different causes, machines that sooner than later will stop working because of the mass production, all the packaging, plastic that comes with the food and also goes to waste and pollutes the planet). So by not caring about food waste we also support global warming, world hunger and poverty. Even though there is a lot to be done, it is visible that things are changing in a good way, individuals and companies are working on minimizing waste by donating food, creating apps, connecting food companies to NGOs, reusing, composting, informing other people, etc. Sometimes it is just the lack of knowledge and fear that stops us from joining the zero waste movement. It is your choice how you handle things and how you consume the food you get. Be helpful, don’t waste.
Here are some videos that might give you ideas (they are long, but worth attention):
How To End The Food Waste Fiasco, TedTalk:
Food Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver