Food Waste Management - "Unconsumed Food For Thought"

Author: Reports and Insights

Food waste is one of the crucial global challenges. Approximately one-third of our whole food goes unconsumed or leftovers and thus wasted across the world. Basically, food waste can be perceived as a complete edible food that was initially prepared and harvested for uptake by humans, but in the end, food is not consumed by humans and is rejected and disposed of before it is consumed, either at the retail location only or by the end consumer. For that reason, food that was produced and manufactured for the intent of human consumption but is then rerouted to other uses as for instance animal feed or bioenergy is yet accounted as food waste or loss. Ultimately, this massive volume of food waste all around the world further creates disrupting environmental as well as financial distress.

Globally, disposed or wasted food can append millions of tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere. Solely in the United States only, more than 52 million dozens of foods are discarded every year, holding a price card of more than $200 billion. According to the study of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), using gathered food production and waste data from worldwide back in the year 2009, 32% of all food which is produced and manufactured for the consumption of humans across the globe is discarded or wasted; which further amounts to nearly 1.3 billion tons per year.

In addition, if these estimates are converted into calories, around 24%, or one out of every four food calories produced and harvested, is wasted. By virtue of which, the enormous amount of food waste worldwide puts an umpteen of complications and challenges as well as missed opportunities for consumers, farmers, and societies as a whole. Being concerned about farmers, food waste signifies a wasted investment and missed profit from food products and commodities that could not be sold; this, or in few cases, can pave its way to increased prices for consumers if there are following shortcomings in supply. This economic load is specifically crucial for small-scale farmers surviving on the edge of food instability, where a little shift in profit margins can massively influence their daily livelihood.

Food waste is the kind of problem and global challenge which is not often brought to light and discussed enough in the media. More essentially, the wasted food can end up costing more money, as well as it can also adversely affect the environment in various ways. In addition, food waste also creates an extra burden on the environment by using water, land, and energy resources inefficiently and further creating inessential and unwanted greenhouse gas releases to escalate, process, and transit food that is ultimately not employed. In addition to that, the dumping of wasted food furthermore chips into emissions to greenhouse gas through methane produced from landfills. Basically, gathered as common waste, food waste paves its way to landfill sites where it is not bared or exposed to sufficient oxygen and thus, it begins to decompose and spoil — emitting methane into the surroundings. Methane is considered an intensely injurious greenhouse gas that can be partially responsible for global warming.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of methods and easy steps to avoid food waste, which will assist and benefit not only the environment but also the money wallet of the population worldwide. Initially, one of the easiest steps we, as a society, can take is to keep track of food waste. If one is observing that there has been consistent food waste, then it is essential to reduce the items when next going for shopping — or cut down the portion sizes.

By the same token, one can easily plan their meals and make a shopping list and try sticking to it while purchasing. Furthermore, another little step can be taken by households, as well as by restaurants and other food businesses to cut down the portion sizes. Restaurants, on a daily basis, witness a huge amount of leftovers in the plates, which can be rectified by reducing the portion sizes. Also, storing food and beverages at an appropriate place and environment can make it shelf life longer and save it from expiring early. These small steps can help enormously to save a large amount of food and ultimately help us tackle the global food waste crisis.  Even though food waste is and is probable to stay one of humanity's biggest challenges.

However, We-as-consumers have a significant role to play in several aspects. Consumers have to be more responsible as well as socially and environmentally aware and mindful when it comes to dining outside in restaurants and cafes. More essentially, consumers must use their voices and purchasing power to cease untenable exercise pressure on businesses and business practices to be more responsible and take firm actions to eradicate food waste.