Food waste or food loss is food that is wasted, lost or uneaten. The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur at the stages of producing, processing, retailing and consuming. Global food loss and waste amount to between one-third and one-half of all food produced.
According to Oz-Harvest the facts on food waste are:
- One third of all food produced is lost or wasted that is around 1.3 billion tonnes of food, costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year.
- If one quarter of the food currently lost or wasted could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people.
- Almost half of all fruit and vegetables produced are wasted (that’s 3.7 trillion apples).
- 8% of greenhouse gases heating the planet are caused by food waste.
- Eliminating global food waste would save 4.4 million tonnes of C02 a year, the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road.
- Throwing away one burger wastes the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower.
- The Government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year.
- Over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
- One in five shopping bags end up in the bin = $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year.
- 35% of the average household bin is food waste.
What can you do to reduce food waste?
- Buy less food at the supermarket and do not impulse buy. You can do this by planning your meals on a weekly or fortnightly basis and then only buy what you need.
- Use your leftovers – freeze them for another meal or turn them into something else, like a soup, a stew, veggie stock, baked goods or part of another meal.
- Cook using what is in your fridge, freezer or pantry and don’t go and buy extra just to make up a recipe (unless specific).
- Buy fruit and vegetables from your local market and look for the products that are sold under “odd” or “not quite right”. We as consumers heavily influence the purchasing powers and just because it doesn’t look right doesn’t affect the taste.
- Buy less take away food as this adds to the land fill problem.
- Compost food waste rather than throwing it into the household bin.
Food that is not eaten or composted goes into landfill and produces methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide. How is this different to compost? Food in landfill is usually covered and receives no oxygen, therefore emitting a dangerous methane gas. Compost on the other hand is exposed to oxygen and goes through aerobic decomposition and produces far less methane making it much better for the environment.
I don’t know about you but I find these facts rather staggering. I challenge you to ask yourself “what can I do to reduce foodwaste?”
This article was written by Jan Caton, BHSc – Naturopathy. Jan is the owner, naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist at Magnolia Apothecary. Jan practices in the Yarra Ranges and Boronia.