No surprise that we are living in a world where resources are not equally shared, that directly applies to food. It is better not to manipulate with statistics and data, because it is easy to mislead with the analysed set of data. There is a fact - we waste food at every point of the consumption process - on agricultural land, transportation, at retailers, and households. Together with that, we waste supplementing resources like transportation costs, land, water, and fuel use, without gaining any of the benefits of feeding people. And of course, costs like labour, effort, investment, and precious resources (like water, seeds, feed, etc.) When food ends up in landfills it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and to climate change.
Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) makes this distinction of food loss and food waste in order to address the root causes of this problem, so everyone in the consumption line from farmers and producers to customers and retailers can help. There are a number of options of how to contribute toward the reduction of food waste on different levels, starting with policies on the state level and finishing with community initiatives and educational campaigns. How can we reduce our food waste on a personal level? Which actions can I do as an individual?
I would like to mention some actions that can be done by an individual starting today:
Try to balance your diet with no-animal-based products. The internet is full of quick healthy recipes.
- Buy only what you need not following advertisements and sales at the supermarket.
Plan your dinners. Make a shopping list up in front going for groceries and follow it, avoid impulsive purchases. It also saves your budget.
- Select unattractive fruit and vegetables.
Try not to judge food by its appearance, as they taste the same! Bruised fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because they don’t meet the cosmetic standards of a customer. Remember that it is possible to use mature fruits for smoothies, juices, and desserts, and in baking.
- Store food in a fridge and cupboard wisely.
That means moving older products to the front and new to the back. Have some airtight containers at home to keep open food fresh in the fridge and ensure packages are closed to stop insects from getting there. Personally, I find it really valuable advice, since some packages might stay that long that you can get "guests" there and it will be a tragedy to the whole of your cupboard. Therefore, sort your food!
- Learn how to understand food labeling.
Knowing the difference between “best before” and “use-by” dates can save products. It can be the situation that food is still safe to consume after the “best before” date, while the “use-by” date tells us when it is no longer safe.
Seeds from a pumpkin you can collect, dry, and use for cooking, for example, in salads. Very nutritious and healthy!
- Cook in a small amount at home and share big meals with others when going out.
- Value your leftovers.
If you have not eaten the meal or particular ingredient - freeze it for later or use the leftovers as an ingredient in another meal. Be creative while cooking! We should not percisely follow the recipe, it is important "to feel" products, by mixing ingredients and spices in search of a new flavor. You can always heat some leftover a second time and use it for a new dish.
- Put your food waste to use in the soil.
Instead of throwing away waste from vegetables and fruits, compost them. This way we are giving nutrients back to the soil and decreasing our personal carbon footprint.
- Read about food production.
- Buy food from local food producers with that you support family farmers and small businesses in your community.
- Search for local initiatives.
Sharing is caring - donate food that would otherwise be wasted. For instance, Apps can connect neighbours with each other as well as with local businesses, so surplus food is not thrown away but shared.
The final message from me: don’t be a perfectionist and be creative toward cooking and overall to the process of eating!