Waste. All of us do this with our food. Every day, everywhere and at all times.
To prove this, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) crunches some numbers. It estimates that, each year, one-third of all the food we grow for our consumption (1.3 billion tons) turns into refuse. This includes 45% of all fruit and vegetables and 35% of fish and seafood. Plus another 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat.
Most of this, not surprisingly, occurs in the developed world. In fact, the food waste per person in Europe and the US – not including supply chain losses – runs between 95-115kg per year. In sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, it is drastically less, at just about 6-11kg.
Food waste also has an impact on the environment. Its carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 gigatonnes. In fact, if food waste were a country, it would rank just third for greenhouse gas emissions. Only the US and China would precede it.
Finally, consider this. Out of the 7 billion we now are, nearly 1 billion is starving. Even if just one fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed about 800 million hungry people in the world.
Things must change. And they must change dramatically.
We can be at the forefront of this revolution, and we can start from our own home.
Check out these practical pointers to apply to your everyday life. Get moving! Join change!
- Plan your meals. Think about a variety of menus, including snacks, before going shopping. This way, you have a clear idea of what your family actually needs over a period of a few days.
- Buy food every 3/4 days. Even if this means walking to your local farmer’s market twice a week.
- Think about portion sizes. Generally, about 30% of each meal turns into garbage. So rethink your portion sizes. Your wallet and stomach will thank you.
- Consume what is most perishable first. Starting with fresh produce, dairy and eggs.
- Cook smaller portions. Less is more even when it comes to food. Concentrate on the quality, not the quantity.
- Eat mindfully. Take your time to enjoy what is in your plate. And at each bite, be grateful to Mother Nature and your local farmers for their hard work.
- Store your food properly. Apples, avocados and bananas should be far from each other, unless you want them to ripen quickly. Citrus fruits and tomatoes can live on the countertop. Little tricks like these will make your food last longer and you will save on expenses.
- Use leftovers. Any extra vegetables from dinner? Make a veggie frittata for lunch. Any coffee from the morning pot still sitting there at noon? Make coffe cake with it for an afternoon snack. And so forth. Just make sure that you never mix leftovers amongst each other. And always present them at the following meal in a pleasant and inviting manner.
- Freeze. Most of your surplus food and the leftovers can be frozen. Herbs, vegetables and cheese can go in the freezer, as well as bread and fruit. Remember to keep track of these and to use them. Put them in small mason jars for more practical defrosting and reusing.
- Recycle and upcycle. Is the bread going stale? Grind it into breadcrumbs with a coffee grinder. Is the milk expiring today? Blend it with some fruit and freeze into ice pop molds. Compost scraps you cannot recycle and fertilize your garden with them. And the list goes on. Get creative!
- Share your extra food. After a big dinner, hand out doggybags to your guests.
- Regrow your food. Beet greens, garlic, onions, salad, herbs. There is an infinite variety of produce that can be replanted instead of becoming garbage!
- Grow your own food. This calls for long hours of hard work and a continuous effort in tending to plant needs. Instead of wasting what you harvest, you then will want to share it with whomever is in need. At the local market, amidst friends and family, in the neighborhood.
Do you have any other suggestions or ideas to add to this post?
Feel free to leave these in the comment box below. We would love to hear form you!
Hi there! My name is Michelle. I’m an American living in Italy, mom of two girls, a lover of travel, music and good food shared with loved ones. I am a freelance grant writer and a former agricultural development practitioner, having worked mostly in rural Africa for 18 years. I look forward to creating a space here – with your help – where we can exchange dreams, ideas and kindness to start shaping a better tomorrow.