Why Food Waste Matters

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The issue of food waste is becoming evermore apparent and many of us are hit hard by the still straggling effects of the financial crisis over the last decade. With most needing to watch the pennies more, let alone the millions of people and animals starving, home and away; finding ways to reduce what we bin has become a high priority for most and should be for all.

Why, you ask?

You may not yourself be one who needs to watch every transaction of your bank account and budget for the weekly food shop. It might not hurt you financially if you throw out a few bags of stir fry vegetables and a few browning broccoli’s, but it may hurt you and other’s in so many other ways.

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I paid for it so it’s up to me if I want to bin it right?

Well, no, is the ethical answer to that, it shouldn’t be OK for you to bin perfectly edible produce jut because you brought it and it’s a darn shame that food may have been able to get to the point of going passed it best in the first place. We’ve all heard the rule of not shopping when hungry as we over-shop and this is especially important for perishable items. Furthermore, when people tell me that their cucumber was bad so it was binned, I can’t help but wonder, was it really bad? Did it just no longer look like a perfect shiny supermarket model but was fine to eat or perhaps it just needed that bad bit cut off? We need to be asking these questions to ourselves before we press on the pedal bin.

What about the animal products thrown away that animals suffered for, worked tirelessly for and died for? What about the food binned that could have fed animals from farms to zoos to vets to rescue centres? I have met people who throw out greens when they have rabbits in the garden and pasta when they have chickens.

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Why does food waste matter?

  • Worldwide more than 800 million people do not have enough to eat. That means one in nine people are suffering from hunger (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2014)
  • Hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide. Each year the death toll exceeds that of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined (World Food Program, 2012).
  • Every year, nearly 3 million children die from hunger-related causes (World Food Program, 2012).
  • Approximately 60% of the chronically hungry are women (World Food Program, 2012).
  • One-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted EACH YEAR, that is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes (The Global FoodBanking Network, 2011).
  • Food discarded in landfills begins to produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas with over 20 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gas damages our water supply, land, air … and ultimately harms this and future generations (The Global FoodBanking Network , 2013).
  • In Britain alone, 4.2m tonnes of food and drink is binned every year that could have been consumed, that’s 24 meals a month or a meal 6 days a week. That is just the avoidable waste with an extra 1.2m tonnes of possibly avoidable waste (Wrap, 2012).
  • British food waste costs us £12.5bn a year (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).
  • If we stopped throwing good, safe, edible food away it would save the equivalent of at least 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the same as taking 1 in every 4 cars off the roads in Britain alone (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).
  • When food is wasted, the immense amount of energy used to create that food is also wasted plus the resources to get rid of it after you bin it (Love Food Hate Waste, 2014).

The 2011 Global Food Loss and Waste study, commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that;

  • 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)
  • Per capita waste by consumers is between 95 and115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia each throw away only 6 to 11 kg a year.

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If your food is really going bad?

  • Feed it to your pet animals where appropriate or donate to a local rescue centre or other animal holding.
  • Compost to use to grow your own food or plant bee friendly flowers.
  • Use fruit that is overripe for a pie or crumble filling, smoothie, cake, jam or vegan jelly or simply freeze for later use.
  • Onions, garlic, herbs, ginger and chillies can be prepared and frozen, just like those expensive packets you can buy in the freezer at the supermarket.
  • Herbs and spices such as ginger, chillies and fresh turmeric can be hung and dried.
  • Use soft herbs and leaves such as spinach, kale and rocket to make pestos which can even be frozen.
  • Use woody herbs to infuse oil.
  • On prepackaged produce and prepared foods, learn to understand the difference between sell-by and best-before dates and the use-by date. The former are often manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality and not strict indicators of whether a food is still safe for consumption. Don’t throw food away just because the print tells you too, use your judgement!

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How to avoid food waste?

  • Buy only what you need, make a shopping list based on planned ahead meals for the week. Don’t buy large quantities of food if you don’t have time to consume it. For instance, buy loose fruits and vegetables rather than prepackaged so you can choose how much you need. Of course, avoid grocery shopping when hungry! We all have eyes bigger than our bellies.
  • Buy ugly fruits and vegetables, those that get left behind just because they don’t look perfect.
  • Check your fridge temperature regularly and invest in a fridge thermometer. Food needs to be stored at the right temperature – 1 to 5C – to remain fresh.
  • Properly pack fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh.
  • Use natural products to extend the life of produce such as Fresha Bags or the BerryBreeze device.
  • Buy safe foods that are doomed for waste from online stores such as Approved Food.

Fresha Bags

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I was sent a pack of Fresha Bags to sample. They use innovative Fresh ‘n’ Smart® technology to keep food food fresher for longer, reduce waste, save money and help the environment.

NATURAL – REUSABLE – RECYCLABLE

Fresh ‘n’ Smart® Technology contains a special blend of minerals that has been developed to provide a safe and convenient way to naturally extend the life of many fresh fruit and vegetables.

The minerals are carefully selected to create a perfect, breathable environment that your fresh produce needs to stay ‘fresha®’ for longer.

This new and exiting product will mean significant savings by reducing the amount of food that you throw away every year.

The test:

I took an organic green batavia lettuce from my organic veg delivery and kept half in the original packaging and half in the Fresha bag which I sealed. I left undisturbed for 5 days. This is the result. It is clear that the bags increase longevity of foods and I have since used the bags to store everything from peppers to mushrooms and potatoes, but I most rate their ability to keep leaves and lettuces crisp and fresh.

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Find out more:

http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/environment/global-food

http://www.wrap.org.uk/food-waste-reduction

http://www.tristramstuart.co.uk/foodwastefacts.html

http://www.recyclenow.com/facts-figures/how-it-recycled/food-waste

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/jul/19/freegan-environment-food

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10393981/Tesco-food-waste-Why-half-of-your-shopping-basket-may-end-up-in-the-bin.html

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28 Responses to Why Food Waste Matters

  1. thesnowwoman says:

    Hi Poppy,
    Great post, I have been reading up on food waste and really trying to decrease food waste at home. It is heartbreaking to think that food is being thrown out and people living close to that food are going hungry.
    It is so bad for many reasons, hopefully if enough people take heed and everyone tries a little harder it will start a movement and make some difference. Right now I will grind that stale bread into breadcrumbs and breakfast muffins from the soft berries!

    • Poppy says:

      Good for you! There is an exhaustive list of why it is so wrong but we are trained to believe there is just this endless supply of food so it can be easy to overlook or even dismiss the horrible truths.
      Breadcrumbs and muffins sound fabulous!

  2. Love, love, love this post. Thanks for sharing the valuable information and tis!

  3. Reblogged this on Dose Dependent Ministries and commented:
    We know why the types of food and food products we purchase and consume are important but do we realize the global impact of the food we waste? That spoiled head of lettuce; it’s bigger than you thought. Read on to know how you can make a difference right in your own kitchen!

  4. Reblogged this on Totally Inspired Mind… and commented:
    You must read this because it will change the way you think and because of that reason, it will change what you do.

    Paulette L Motzko

  5. The Vegan 8 says:

    What a wonderful informative post Poppy!! I am always rushing to make sure I eat all my food and veggies before they go bad and I kind of panic if they do because I HATE to waste food and money….thank you so much for sharing such awesome tips!

  6. I always feel so guilty tossing out food – even though we are able to compost everything (another benefit of not eating animals!). But, I think I’ve gotten better over the years with being creative :-). Anyway, I’ve seen similar bags and wondered if they were worth buying – seems so! Thanks for the post, Poppy!

    • Poppy says:

      The sad thing is Annie, I wouldn’t have bought these if I hadn’t been sent them to try. I often assume these things won’t work but I was absolutely won over and will buy more when these ones are no longer useable for sure! I struggled most with lettuces going slimy and soggy, I’ve had one in my fridge for over a week as I write this that is still at it’s prime 🙂

  7. Becky says:

    I loved this post, Poppy! Food waste is one of my pet peeves. It’s crazy that we throw away almost half of the food we produce while people and animals starve.

  8. apsara says:

    Very useful post. Couldn’t agree with you more! I’ll have to check if I can get bags similar to the ones you have.

  9. Terri Cole says:

    Great post Poppy! I utilize those produce bags, especially for greens. They definitely make a difference. I also freeze greens if I think they will spoil before I can use them. My favorite use for over-ripe fruit is in quick breads. (And of course there’s the compost pile as my last resort.)

  10. trixpin says:

    This is so important so thank you for sharing all this information. I just feel sick when I think of all the perfectly good things being thrown out, but sometimes people just don’t seem to get it. Frustrating. We rarely waste anything in our household and it requires a bit of careful planning and savvy saving, but anyone could do it if they put their mind to it.

    The bags look really good! Definitely one to promote 🙂

  11. Kayse says:

    Great post, Poppy!!
    It’s so important to be aware of our food waste. I love all the facts you shared!
    xo

  12. Share JOYS! Project / Joy Journey 2 Health says:

    Great post on food waste! I try my best to make menus, and use up what I have before getting anew, and pick groceries to go with what I already have on hand. This helps a bunch. Sometimes, however, with dietary intolerances and allergies, I have recently ended up with small amounts of food that I can no longer use, and because others in my household are accustomed to convenience foods and the like vs. whole foods, I end up having to do one of the following, at times:

    1) Post on http://www.kindista.org

    2) Post on http://www.freecycle.org within my local region so that someone in my community can pick it up who can put it to good use. This is similar to Kindista above. I have had more responses from Freecycle than Kindista when it comes to actual pick-ups, however.

    3) Compost it.

    Again, thank you for this insightful post and inspiring others to be that much more conscientious, while grateful for the food they do have available to them. 🙂

    • Poppy says:

      What great ideas on passing on unusable food for you. You may even find it could go to a local food bank for needy people too. Thank you for sharing. Poppy 🙂

      • Share JOYS! Project / Joy Journey 2 Health says:

        The unusable food I have had on hand has been opened and tried at least once, so I couldn’t give it to the food bank. On the other hand, I have given to people living on the streets, including a meal I purchased at the farmers market that ended up being too spicy for my taste while nearby people seemed in need of food and I offered it to them instead. They seemed to truly appreciate it and it even helped out a young child too.

  13. Lorna says:

    I actually can’t tell you how much I love this post!!

    I’m so passionate about not wasting food, one of the many reasons I hate intensive farming and choose a plant-based lifestyle. All those animals that have died to end up in the reduced section in the supermarket before they ultimately get thrown out; I can’t stand it!

    At least with plants you can compost them if all else fails! I’ve just mulched my vegetable patch with home-made garden compost ready for planting in a few weeks time. Happy little cycle!

    Fab post, I’m gonna have to share it!

    Lorna | naturally-bee.blogspot.co.uk |

    • Poppy says:

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support Lorna! I hear you loud and clear about the wasted animal products, it’s just harrowing to think really.
      Thankfully, I have a very happy bunch of herbivore AND ‘confused’ carnivore pets who ensure there are no wasted scraps and anything they can’t or won’t eat goes to the wildies!

      Thanks for sharing!
      Poppy XO

  14. Cora Winton says:

    All the information about food waste is so disturbing. My opinion is that if we want to take control over reducing food waste, it’s a personal responsibility and mission of each one of us, we are not achieving anything if we are only talking about this all and when we go home we throw our dinner in the garbage because we or not hungry right now. Greets!

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