Author: Chris Perrin • Date: July 10, 2016 • Appears in:
Here’s a Crazy Idea: Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Throwing Away Nearly Half of Our Food
We all do it. We look in the fridge, give that greying meet or a browning veggie a sniff and toss it (hopefully) into the compost. Basically, we all waste food. On an individual level, the food waste we generate amounts to a lot and, like any drop-in-the-bucket scenario, adds up the more we do it. Making a personal change can be relatively easy, and the more households that start reducing their food waste, the better. Like anything systemic, however, one of the major issues is in economy of scale.
According to a Food and Agriculture Organization study (FAO, a body of the United Nations), “32 percent of all food produced in the world was lost or wasted in 2009.” In the U.S., alone, that adds up to about $48.3 billion worth of edible food not even making it to consumers. This means there are some holes in the system, and they’re leaking. What makes this even more shocking is that approximately 14 percent of American households aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.
In an effort to reduce this waste, the Obama Administration, along with the EPA, has made it a priority to stop a large quantity of food from becoming waste, while using it to help the hungry. This is an important connection as, according to the World Food Programme, poverty and food waste are two of the leading factors that contribute to famine and malnutrition.
Some E.U. countries are taking it a step farther and using potentially wasted food to help the impoverished. A bill quickly making its way through the Italian parliament this week looks to force supermarkets into donating their unsold edibles to charities. They aren’t alone. The French passed a similar bill in February, making France the first country in the world to enact such legislation. With the U.K.’s Tesco volunteering to donate, and the opening of a Danish supermarket that only sells expired food, it looks like private companies are also getting in on the trend.
In North America, we can do more. We can call and write to our representatives, or even ask that our local markets down the street — even the big chains — start a donation program with a local food bank or pantry. Even better, we can hold ourselves accountable and even get involved in our own food system. IKEA, surprisingly enough, is making it easier to do just that.
The release of IKEA’s KRYDDA/VÄXER hydroponic garden not only gives you some nice green things to look at, it allows you to grow some of own food, year round. Nothing compares to growing your own food when we’re talking about waste. It’s also the best way to participate with your food system: When the entire system goes from the backyard to the kitchen, we’ll be less willing to throw our labour directly into the trash. More importantly, affordable setups like this can help people who suffer malnutrition and hunger as a result of poverty, even in an inner city setting.
Let’s take back a little control over our food.