Have you ever wondered how much food gets wasted per year and what happens to the food wasted?
One-third of all the food produced is wasted! That is like going into a grocery store buying three bags of groceries and on your way to the car dropping one bag and not even looking back at the bag or even turning around to pick it up. If we only give a quarter of the food wasted to food insecure people it would be enough to feed the 812 million food-insecure people globally with three meals a day. If we were to put a financial number to this waste it would be a trillion dollars’ worth of food wasted every single year.
There are many reasons for the food getting wasted and the process starts right at the farm. Produce are usually classified for their size, quality and overall appearance and if you are a class A farmer, the “ugly fruit” produced on your farm is not getting sold with the class A fruit. This is then often tossed to the side and either turned into compost, sometimes food for animals or headed for a landfill. There are many companies trying to close the gap and provide farmers with the opportunity to donate the ugly fruit that is then sold for a fraction of the cost to make food more affordable and accessible to others.
The food waste does not stop at the farm, the cycle continues through the journey to the store and also the time at the store. The food could be damaged on the way to the store or in the store and be removed for the stock to only display all the beautiful produce. One of the fruits that are often discarded in stores is bananas. Many stores gather all the single bananas at night and throw them out. This is one of the reasons why I always like to gather all those single lonely bananas before they go to waste.
There are many foods that have an expiry date or sell-by date on them. Stores would often remove them a few days before and sell them at a discounted price to move more products, other stores would just throw them out. This then becomes a golden find for anyone that has been dumpster diving. A lot of the food would still be good to consume even after the sell-by or expiry date.
Food is also wasted that comes into our house that we do not consume before it goes bad. The little bits of scraps we cut off like the peels, edges or maybe a little bad spot on the produce often also make their way to the bin along with the food we leave on our plates. As much as 40% of what we throw away in our bin at home is food waste-related. There are many ways how we could reduce food waste in our houses, like planning your meals before going to the grocery store to make sure you only purchase what you need. You can find great recipes to make sure you use the entire produce for example watermelon, we all love the pink flesh, but did you know you can make a really amazing chutney or curry from the rind? I have also started to use my produce with their skin and on the odd day that I do peel the potatoes or carrots, I try to use the skins to make some tasty crisps to ensure we get all of our produce.
There will always be some form of food waste and for those cases, I want to encourage you all to start composting. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is around 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Therefore, by composting your food waste you can use it as a fertilizer to improve your soil’s health and productivity to grow more food.
You can either compost right at home, there are many options from a bokashi bin to a full-on electric version that gives you compost in 24 hours. There is always the option to save your food waste in a bucket in the fridge or freezer to avoid any smells and drop it off at a local community garden or a farmer that would be happy to accept it.
There are many ways how we can reduce our food waste, we might not be able to change the entire system, but doing our part already has an impact and can spread ripples that will have an impact to hopefully close the gap in time.