Global food loss and waste amount to between one-third and one-half of all food produced. We don’t have to hunt for our food or grow it, we just walk into a supermarket and it’s there for us. We buy more than we need and the excess lies in the fridge, only to eventually be thrown away. Having a wasteful attitude towards food is very common in the UK. Food waste is no great loss to us personally and we generally don’t consider the negative impacts and effects of it.
So what is the actual problem with food waste? Surely, it’s just food?
When food starts to biodegrade, methane gas is produced which can trap twenty-five times more heat than carbon dioxide. This of course contributes to our climate crisis, which is pushing more and more people into poverty. When we waste food, we also waste the resources that were used in the process: water for growing, land for planting, fuel for powering harvest machinery and transport. Our food waste is harming the planet and making it more difficult for the people who produce our food to continue doing so.
Ultimately, we must change the excessive overproduction of food that leads to waste in the first place. The supermarket model may be convenient, but it comes at a price. So in the meantime, what can we personally do to reduce food waste?
Tips to reduce food waste
Plan your meals to ensure you only buy what you need to minimise buying food that you might not use.
Soups will be your best friend in preventing food waste – they can be made with any leftovers of veg in the fridge – It doesn’t matter if they’re a little discoloured or soft because they will all be cooked and blended.
Grow your own. This can help you appreciate how much work and resources go into producing one small amount of food.
Use all parts of the veg/fruit if you can. There is no need to peel the majority of food that we do. The skins of most vegetables are edible! Use end bits or discoloured sections to make a soup.
Buy food from organisations such as ‘Too Good To Go’ who sell restaurant leftovers at a reduced rate.
Resist bulk buying or 2 for 1 offers unless you know that you will use it.
Freeze forgotten food that is quickly approaching its use-by date such as: bread, veg and fruit
Tub up meal leftovers for lunch the next day
Be savvy with ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. If food is past these dates, it is usually still okay to eat. Try relying less on package dates and get used to the smells and appearance of foods to know if it is still consumable or not.
Value your food. You are much less likely to waste something valuable!
Support Local – this shortens the supply chain, reducing opportunities for food loss and waste, as well as supporting local businesses.
Lower your standards – It’s supermarket culture that perfection is desirable when in reality wonky, split and slightly bruised fruit and veg are perfectly normal and totally safe to eat.
An appetite for change
As our world becomes more networked, food supply chains get longer creating more opportunities for food to be wasted at each stage. We are a wasteful society with plentiful food resources. These tips can help us to reduce our food waste at home and help us see the value in our food.
Let’s be thankful for the food we’ve been given!