Reducing Food Waste

How much food waste do we create? How do we go about reducing food waste? It is said that the amount we waste could feed the millions of starving people in the world. What a waste of a finite resource that is essentially provided by nature which we just help along with our farms and such.

reducing food waste
Food waste is the single largest commodity sent to landfill.

Food waste is exacerbated by it being distributed using plastic bags, containers and more but that is another problem. We are looking at how it contributes to our environmental pollution and what can we do about it. Let’s look at some food wastage facts first.

About 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually worth over $US680 billion per year in developed countries and about $US310 billion per year in developing countries. It is interesting to note that the amount of food distributed between developed and developing counts is roughly the same yet the amount of waste in the developing countries is roughly half that of the developed. This is further exacerbated by the fact that more people live in developing countries. Reducing food waste is a priority in these countries.

So why is this? Obvious isn’t it, the people in the developing countries cannot afford to waste as much food.

So where does all this food waste come from?

A big contributor is restaurants where a huge amount of food is thrown out. Just look at it this way. Have you been to one of those restaurants that host a “help yourself” menu? Have you seen people go up and pile food on their plates as if they are trying to build a mountain and this is just their entree? They eat a portion of it then go back and help themselves to the main course and build a mountain again. Would they do this at home? no, they wouldn’t.

I remember a friend of mine who was invited to stay a month in her Thai friends home in Thailand. Near the end of her stay she took the whole family out to a banquet restaurant chosen by her friend. She was warned that cost was a fixed price per person but with a difference. If you did not eat everything on your plate then you had to pay extra for any food left on it. I guess there wasn’t much food waste from that restaurant. It’s interesting that it is a developing country that introduced this.

You may think this is a silly idea for a restaurant to have. Look at it this way. The more food waste there is a higher cost to the restaurant thus I would presume that is reflected in the fixed price for the banquet. If there is negligible food waste then this is reflected in the standing charge price. Not so stupid heh. Maybe we in the developed world should consider doing this.

Well, we have talked about this waste of food in restaurants, what about at home. Did you know that almost 40% of the trash bin in Australia is wasted food? Did you know that American households throw away $2,200 worth of food a year?

So how do we go about reducing food waste in our homes?

  • Smart grocery shopping
  • Smart vegetable usage
  • Use by dates – Best before dates