We have walked on the moon, created bionic technology to help us walk, we’ve created vaccines for diseases and EVEN sent a Tesla into space — so why are we STILL struggling with food waste?
I think about the times I haven’t finished the meal I made or had at a restaurant. Do I take a doggy bag home? Do I leave it for the bin? The truth is, it’s easy for me to throw it away. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal comes from unlike the millions of others in different circumstances.
Now imagine throwing away 1.3 BILLION TONNES of leftovers in one year. That’s about the weight of 216,666,666 African Bush Elephants or 86,666,666 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited Sedan. Pretty impressive numbers right? Doing the math on that one was interesting but really considering how wasteful we humans are was a shocker.
According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO), on average 1.3 billion tonnes of produce in the world for human consumption is thrown out every year due to loss and waste.
Waste results in the food we don’t consume whereas loss focuses on production. We are all guilty of food waste! Research shows that we throw away at least 1 in 5 things we purchase at supermarkets.
But, are we responsible for production loss?
The production consists of harvest, handling, processing and packaging. During this process we lose (AKA throw away) about 75 million tonnes, of that 70% is root vegetables and the other 30% is fruit loss. That number is enough to feed an estimated 1.5 billion people — a combined population of India and USA!
The produce is thrown away mainly due to standards set by consumers and supermarkets which are to create picture-perfect produce. So, whatever they think won’t sell is thrown out before it even gets to the supermarkets.
Although, if they sold ugly produce would we even buy it?
So, what is the solution? There isn’t one uber solution but perhaps a few possible improvements. You could either change the way the crop is grown to ensure it meets the standards of the supermarkets and consumers OR you change the standards. The latter is surely easier to do than the first.
With food waste, we need to eat what we buy, buy less or share it out before it goes bad.
Our job is not only to think about the cause but to act. Remember 1.3 billion tonnes!