It is no gain saying that we live in a hungry world. Sadly, we live in a wasteful world too!
Food waste is a global epidemic and it’s high time we started fighting back. Going by the statistics of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 815 million people of the world population goes to bed hungry every night and unfortunately, 1.3 billion tonnes of the entire food produced worldwide goes to waste. The value of these wasted food is worth over 1 trillion dollars.
The implication of this is that 1 out of 9 people who are starving or malnourished in the world, each one of them could be adequately fed on less than 1 quarter of the food that goes to waste in the USA, UK and Europe every year.
One might ask what food waste in the west has got to do with Africa. Well, there is a globalized food supply system where demand for food in the West can upsurge the amount of food grown for export in developing countries, this can in turn shift the focus of local farmers to grow food for export purposes than to feed native populations.
According to FAO, 40% of food losses in developing countries occur at post-harvest and processing stages. In Nigeria, food waste occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities.
At consumer level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance. A lot of people judge food and throw them out just because they don’t meet certain aesthetic standard, shape, size, or color.
Tossing edible food doesn’t just waste money, all of the resources that went into producing the food (water, land, labour, energy, capital, etc) are also squandered. Also, when food waste goes to landfill, where majority of them ends up, they decompose without access to oxygen and creates methane, which is 23 times more deadly than carbon dioxide!
From whatever dimension we look at it, food waste is a major culprit in reinforcing world hunger and a potent force in destroying our planet, in fact, according to National Geographic, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA.
We individually contribute to this menace with our little daily habits like thrashing out the first and last slices of bread, or those funny looking fruits and veggies. Hence, we are half the problem.
The good news is…..we can as well be half the solution!
To wage war on food waste and redeem our dear planet from hunger, here are few tips on how we can individually curb the menace
Research has shown that buying in bulk, as convenient as it is may lead to more food waste. So, if you live far away from the store or you hate shopping multiple times over a period of time, you should be thoughtful and careful about what you purchase.
Save and EAT Surplus Food
We should endeavor to save uneaten food when we have leftovers. Label your leftovers so you can keep track of how long they’ve been in your fridge or freezer, and incorporate them into your daily routine.
Preserve food in the right places
A lot of people don’t know how to properly store food, especially fruits and vegetables, which can lead to premature ripening and, eventually, rotten produce. For instance, food items like potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions should be kept at room temperature. Never to be refrigerated.
Avoid over-storage in your fridge and freezer
Out of sight is out of mind and this saying also applies to food. When we forget something’s there until it’s no longer good to consume, that will amount to a huge waste. Also remember that things don’t last forever in the freezer. Freezing can be a great asset in extending food’s lifespan, but it will eventually dry that food out.
Keep things neat and visible, and use the “first in, first out” principle: After you buy new foodstuffs, move the older products to the front so you consume them first.
Donate food to charities and farms
Before you throw away excess food, look into charities where you can bring items you know you’re not going to consume before they go bad, you can as well give them to people in need. You can also donate scraps and other types of food to farmers to feed livestock.