Sunday, February 17, 2013

THINK-EAT-SAVE- The Planet -Food Waste Matters

"One person's trash is another person's treasure"

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is THINK-EAT-SAVE to reduce your foodprint.

"1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger."
The Planet needs to Paradigm Shift to change the way we deal with Food Waste and Poverty.    We need to find answers on how to waste less food and re-distibute the food that is wasted to people that don't have any food.   I would say that for all of the people that throw out food, which includes manufacturers, producers, families, individuals and restaurants,  there are the same amount of people that are hungry in the world.   You know when your parents would say "there are people starving in Africa so eat your food", well they were sort of right.  There are people starving or short of food everywhere in the world while others  throw out  food.


The impact of food waste is not just financial. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming. 
  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
  • Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
  • In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage –and cooling facilities. Thus, a strengthening of the supply chain through the support farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food –and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste. 
  • In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. Moreover, the study identified a lacking coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for save food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste. 
  • Discarded fish alone amounts to as much as 30 million tonnes, compared to total landings of 100–130 tonnes/year.
  • In the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. (Jones, 2004 cited in Lundqvist et al., 2008)
  • United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. Most of this (5.9 million tonnes or 88%) is currently collected by local authorities. Most of the food waste (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed (WRAP, 2008; Knight and Davis, 2007).
  • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.
Global Food Losses and Food Waste - FAO, 2011
The environmental crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crisis  – UNEP, 2009


I feel food guilt every time I throw out a bag of garbage that has rotten food in it because I know that I have thrown money wasted into the garbage and have depleted the environments critical resources.  I waste a lot of food because I live alone and find that I don't always use up all of the containers or fresh vegetables before they spoil.   Even with all the preservatives put into food these days the food isn't meant to last forever and if it does it isn't real food.  We need to find ways to keep less food out of the landfills and have it go to the people that need it.

I know that the Food Systems around the world are changing and we may not have enough food to feed everyone on the planet one day.  With the increase of Climate Change and Extreme Weather in the world and the lack of financial assistance for farmers and the shift towards genetically modified food there will be a shortage of farmers producing healthy Organic non toxic foods in the future.   
We need to find ways to manage the food we produce and eat now.

Some ideas that I think might be helpful are:

1.  Have government create more incentives for farmers to grow Organic crops and farm with practices that keep the earth sustainable.
2.  Have incentives for manufacturers to produce Biodegradable eco packaging for all food products.
3.  Impose financial penalties on companies that don't comply with environmental food practices.
4.  Manufacturers get tax incentives to produce chemical laden junk foods that are sold for less money than healthy foods.  The government should provide tax incentives and credits for Independent food producers that focus on local, organic and affordable food that is sold to the public.
5.  Many families struggle with obesity because they survive on high carbohydrate and highly processed foods because they have longer shelf life and are available everywhere for less money.  Healthy food should cost less than junk food because there is a price to pay in increased health care costs as a result of the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease because of the lack of proper nutrition for many families in the World.
6.  Food education needs to be provided in the schools for children at a young age so they develop healthy eating habits and they learn about the costs to the environment and the health care system in their future.
7.  Manufacturers and grocers and markets should look at ways to sell people only what they need.  I find that I can only buy a whole stalk of celery but I only end up using half of the celery stalk before it goes bad. I am sure that a lot of food is wasted because of the big box packaging of foods.   Even when you buy food at farmers markets you are restricted to certain sized containers of food.  Maybe it's time to rethink how we sell portions of food.
8.  People have lost the skills on preserving foods and expect manufacturers to do it for them.  We need to look at programs that can teach people how to preserve their foods and use foods efficiently so that less food is wasted.
9.  Maybe a tax incentive for people that maintain healthy weights instead of punishing people that are obese.  
10.  Food banks need to be changed to food re-distribution centres where people that have surplus food can donate in their areas so that people that fall on hard times can access emergency food easily.

We need to look at the whole food system differently.   From how it is produced to how it is distributed to how much it costs and what the impact to the environment is.

With the increase of unemployment and climate change and the increasing numbers extreme weather disasters and the increase of health issues and diseases in the world, we need to find new ways to solve some of the issues that occur from all of these factors.   
Once the resources are gone they are gone.  We need to find ways to stop the food waste NOW before it's too late.

Without food there is no LIFE.   

Food is connected to everything on the planet, the health of the people the animals and the environment. 

We need to figure out how to take better care of it NOW before we lose it ALL.

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY is on JUNE 5, 2013 - THINK -EAT-SAVE the Planet on this day.

For more information go to United Nations Environmental Program at

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree.
    I ride to the grocery once a week to buy just what I am going to eat that week and do not waste food.


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