Let’s talk about food. More specifically, food waste.
Here’s the deal: Food is one of the most wasted commodities in the world.
According to The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion ton of CO2 per year. If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Food waste is defined as food that was once intended for consumption, but was discarded along the food supply chain. This can be on a micro scale with individuals chucking old or uneaten food in their home, or on a macro scale, with grocery stores putting expired (but perfectly good) food in the dumpsters. Whatever the method for waste, 1/3 of the global food supply is uneaten and unused.
Which, frankly speaking, is insane. While most food waste occurs on the front-end of the food supply chain (in processing centres, storage facilities, transport operations, and in retail centres), private households are still identified as key actors in the food waste generation.
Large food distributors contribute to the problem. Due to expiration dates, aesthetic preferences, and social expectations, perfectly edible food is thrown out regularly. While campaigns like Imperfect Picks and Odd Bunch exist, both strategies that sell less-than-perfect produce for a reduced price, supermarkets still waste food. It’s worth nothing that Australia is a leader for taking actionable steps with their food waste. Models like The Inconvenience Store in Melbourne, a leading food rescue organisation, collect food from commercial centres and offer it for free for those that need it. Other iterations and organisations tackling food waste exist throughout the country.
ABC TV: War on Waste: Food Wastage
Strategically assessing and cutting down your personal food waste can play a small, but mighty role in counteracting a broken global food system. It’s easy to gloss over the amount of food we waste on a weekly basis – those leftovers and that apple that’s seen better days. You’ve done it, we’ve done it.
Shop Better & Plan Your Meals
Shopping for food is our favourite part of the week. Perusing the produce aisle, picking out fresh-baked bread, and planning for extravagant meals is the stuff of our dreams.
But sometimes, it’s easy to go wild in the grocery store and buy way more food than you can actually eat. That’s where meal planning comes into play. We love meal planning because it helps to design what groceries are needed and gives us something to look forward to!
Meal planning can take the form of creating thematic meals or preparing meals way ahead of team, and chucking them in the fridge.
If you still overbuy on your grocery run, a big veggie soup or curry will be your go-to that will last you well into the weekend.
Shop Your Pantry
Maintaining a well-stocked pantry is a great way to keep meals exciting and diverse. But sometimes, the collection of bulk and dry goods can lead to an unused and unloved pantry. Shopping your pantry is a great way to take an honest look at the food you already have. A pantry overhaul can result in more intentional grocery shopping – where trips are primarily centered on buying fresh food, rather than bulk items you may already have.
Food Waste Fridays
Sometimes it’s inevitable to have extra food that’s on the verge of spoiling. We guarantee you’re not alone. Celebrate excess food and invite friends over for what we’re coining Food Waste Fridays. Create a curry, jam some rotting fruit, or find other ways to use and eat food that would otherwise be wasted. Or process and freeze your food before it spoils!
Make A Bigger Impact
If you’re feeling inspired to act and reduce the amount of food waste in your community, align yourself with local organisations or open a dialogue with food distributors. Encourage local supermarkets to partner with charities to donate food or offer ugly produce at a hefty discount. If their fresh food is too rotten to sell, consider reaching out to local farmers to see if they use organic compost.
The Australian Government reported that Australians send over 4 million tonnes of food to the landfill on a yearly basis. That equates to $8 billion+ worth of food that could be eaten, re-distributed or used for livestock, farming, or industry.
In Australia, there are several charities, including Second Bite and Food Not Bombs, that welcome food donations from larger distributors. They work to redistribute the food to those in need to ensure that food isn’t wasted. If you’re hoping to see institutions reduce their bulk food waste, put them in touch with organisations that prioritise redistribution.
We’re not necessarily condoning the good ol’ dumpster dive, but we’re certainly not opposed. For radical supporters of the anti-food waste movement, the dumpster is your goldmine. In the US, up to 50% of edible produce is thrown out - we can only assume the numbers are comparable in Australia.
A movement coined ‘freeganism,’ pulling food from dumpsters saves money, reduces food waste and spreads awareness about the amount of food wasted. It’s a fantastic way to explore the food system and understand how much edible food is thrown out in your community. While legally it’s a gray area, law enforcement tends to be lenient in Australia. Dumpsters behind grocery stores are technically considered private property, but if you do your research and have a convincing speech about food waste ready, you’ll be well equipped if you get caught.
One of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals is to reduce per capita consumer global food waste by 50% and reduce losses along the supply chain by 2030. Australia, tapped into this lofty goal, has committed to halving the national food waste by half through a number of community and industry lead initiatives.
It’s admirable to see the government and a number of organisations tackling food waste head on. But, all good things take time and changing how food is produced and processed is no exception.
Until there is a systematic change in place for managing food waste, the best way to tackle a global problem is at home. As cliche as it sounds, even small actions can make a difference.