Every minute, huge amounts of food is produced and processed around the planet. And to make sure it reaches you, this produce is transported through ships and trucks from one part of the world to another. Yet, nearly a billion people go hungry every night across the world.
Why curbing food wastage is the need of the hour?
– Causes food deprivation and hunger: Of about one-third of the food produced across the world for human consumption every year, roughly 1.3 billion tonnes get wasted. Food waste is thus one of the major factors contributing to hunger.
– Triggers climate change: The food that gets wasted accounts for 8% of all the greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental consequences and the means deployed, both human and capital in the process of producing and processing food is massive. With food wastage, all of it goes to waste.
What causes food wastage?
To solve the problem, we must understand what lies at the heart of it. A better understanding of the underlying causes of food wastage can induce positive outcomes and grassroots solutions on ways to curb it.
Food wastage can primarily occur at 3 levels:
1) Producer to Retailer losses
2) Retailer to business losses (Restaurants, banquets, caterers, cafes)
3) Retailer to Consumer losses
1) Farm to Consumer losses: One of the major reasons behind food wastage, especially in emerging countries is due to post-harvest losses. This means, the agricultural produce that is harvested, never makes it to the consumer’s plate.
The production and processing of food products is a volatile business owing to the perishable nature of produce. Every hour counts, as these fragile and perishable food items travel long distances to reach the retailers before it finally reaches the consumer’s plate.
– Losses owing to poor packaging that leads to shattering: A small mistake or the use of incompetent and low-quality material in packaging can increase the percentage of food wastage and subsequent losses by leaps and bounds.
Antidote: Proper packaging of perishable food items.
2) Retailer to business losses: This happens when the food gets wasted at the retailer to the business stage.
– High-quality standards. Here, food gets wasted when, certain food retailers are responsible to supply food to some big food businesses like restaurants, banquets, caterers, etc.
These big businesses reject vegetables and other food items on very high-quality standards, for example, if the vegetables are a little less bright in colour or a little distorted in shape, while its nutritional value remains intact. Such vegetables are often discarded and go to waste.
– Large gatherings: A lot of food gets wasted at a large gathering like weddings, social events, etc. A lot of food is being prepared at such events, keeping in mind the uncertainty of how many people might turn up at the event. A very huge portion of what is being prepared is not consumed and thereafter discarded to garbages and dumps.
How to avoid it?: To avoid such wastages, non-profit organizations and social groups can come up to collect food from such gatherings and restaurants and deliver it to those in need of it, upon quality check.
3) Retailer to Consumer: Such losses occur at the consumer level. The reasons behind such losses can be multifaceted and so can be the solutions to curb it.
Simple tips to avoid food wastage at home:
– Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
Reduce: Cut down on unnecessary, indiscriminate shopping. Planning is the key. Plan your weekly and daily meals and buy groceries accordingly, so that nothing goes to waste.
Reuse: Re-purpose food products and make something interesting out of it if it’s in usable condition than throwing it away.
Recycle: Try composting leftover food items in your home garden or a big earthen pot, which can be later used as manure.
– Pool food products: Let’s say you bought a big jar of olives, which you no longer require, rather than waiting for it to get wasted, ask a friend who might love to utilize it for some Pizzas. You might as well get a slice!
– Plan creative get-togethers: You can plan creative get-togethers and flaunt your cooking skills by making the most amazing ‘best out waste’ meal for your friends.
– Feed stray animals: Show some kindness and feed stray animals who roam around the streets empty stomach.