"Food waste isn't considered a problem because, for the most part, it isn't considered at all. It's easy to ignore because it's both common and customary... I have yet to meet someone who is pro-food waste, but many aren't convinced that it's important." Jonathan Bloom saynotofoodwaste.org
Looking at Food Waste, Statistically
Here are some statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations that help put food loss and food waste into perspective:
- Globally, we waste 1.3 billion tonnes (1 300 000 000 000 kgs, you guys) of edible food per year.
- Every year 250km3 of water is lost on food we wasted. For visual learners: that’s three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
- 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area is used to produce the food that we end up wasting.
- Developing countries tend to lose their food in the production process (such as crops failing because of drought, flooding or pests as well as financial, managerial and technical constraints), whereas in middle and high-income regions (that’s us) most food is lost in our supermarkets and in our homes.
- Supermarkets throw out a shocking amount of fresh produce simply because consumers deem them as too ugly (which is why we need to reverse this neurotically impractical trend by embracing ugly fruit and veg).
- We rich country kids waste almost as much food (222 millions tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 millions tonnes). Sub-Saharan Africa is the portion of Africa located under the Sahara Desert, which is more than three quarters of the continent.
Isn't this all infuriating, disappointing and downright unnecessary?
If We Tossed Less and Salvaged More
Some altruistic and non-altruistic reasons to care about food waste:
- The one-third of the planet's food that goes to waste can feed 2 billion people. Around 800 million people world-wide are actually suffering from hunger. This means that no one should actually be going hungry.
- You'll be helping our planet in that we won't be squandering natural resources, like fuel, land and water, to produce the food that we end up wasting anyway;
- When you buy ugly fruit and vegetables you're helping the farmers who produce them;
- You'll save money;
- When you buy ugly fruit and vegetables you'll end up with potato bears and gangster carrots and and it will be funny;
- You'll also end up with seductive radishes and lemons with penises and it will be funnier;
- You're probably going to become more creative and experimental in the way you cook;
- You can feel good about having ethical and responsible day-to-day habits.
If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, after China and the U.S. - National Geographic
Waste Less Food One Habit at a Time
Changing everything at once doesn't work well for the bulk of us, so I'm not going to suggest that we alter all our food wasting habits in one swoop. Rather, it's far more practical and feasible to change one or two things at a time, so try not to be too down on yourself if you make a slip.
Your Free 'Yes to Less Food Waste' Poster
To get us started I made a printable, double-sided poster that lists actionable and non-overwhelming ways we can all waste less food in our homes. You can get your free printable version here. Feel free to share it with anyone you know!
Do you have any food-saving habits that I didn't mention on my posters? Let me know and I will share your tips down the track!