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The Food Waste Disaster: An Introduction

All good conversations start with Awareness. Today’s blog post is all about awareness.

The storm of what I am going to call The Food Waste Disaster has been slowly brewing.  It’s existence and impacts are vastly under-reported.  Already costing governments all around the world enormous amounts of money, it is worryingly, causing irreversible damage to our Planet.

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘Food Waste’?

Maybe you think of that half-eaten burger or that bag of chips that went stale before you could finish them.  Perhaps you feel a wash of guilt about that cauliflower forgotten at the back of the fridge. This type of Food Waste hits us directly in our own pockets- wasting not just the food but our hard earned cash.

Food that moves from the farm to our fridges have resources and costs embedded in them. Many people are more aware now about food miles, embedded energy and sustainability. In relation to food that means that the cost and presence of that apple (and the energy it provides your body) includes all the transportation, refrigeration, packaging etc. required to get it to our plates.

However, there is a much bigger problem. Hidden away in agricultural centres across the country, there is dirty laundry in plain sight.

What Food Waste do we not know about?

Have you ever thought that there are fields after fields of crops being left unharvested, because farmers aren’t being paid an amount fair to the effort of harvest, or occasionally supermarkets have even changed their minds about purchasing the crops?

Worse even, what about the crops which have been harvested but won’t be accepted by the supermarkets because they don’t have the ideal physical traits (too small, too big, too blemished, inappropriately shaped) they need to be perfectly sellable?

If that got you thinking, here are some Food Waste facts that may blow your mind:

-Over one third of all food produced globally goes to waste. Yet there are still one billion hungry people in the world who could be fed on about a quarter of the food that goes to waste.

-Food Waste costs the Australian Government about $20 billion annually.

-An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten.

-25% of the world’s fresh water resources are used to grow food that is never eaten.

-If Food Waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA).

-In most developed countries, most Food Waste is generated at home.

-2.3 billion people are joining the planet by 2050 – this will require a 60-70% increase in global food production… or in reference to th points above- we could just stop throwing away our food!

How do we take action?

Our food system has a direct impact on all of the environmental issues of our time. This includes climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, soil degradation and water security.  Addressing the flaws in our food supply systems, along with changing the way we do things at home, can potentially have an incredibly positive impact.

For today, I will leave you to digest this information and consider the magnitude the problem.  Over the next few weeks, I will explore various aspects of Food Waste. I hope this conversation provides a catalyst for a movement that starts to address Food Waste in our homes, in our communities and in the larger food supply networks.  

Every small change done by many will eventually start making a dent – this is my mission.

Look forward to chatting further soon!


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