The problem of Food Waste

The scale of food waste

The problem of food waste is a huge global issue. Around one third of all the food produced in the world is wasted. There are around 7 billion people on the planet and we produce enough food to feed around 10 billion. Yet around 840 million people go hungry. 21,000 die of hunger every day. Our wasted food would be enough to feed these 840 million four times over. Even in the UK, around one in five children under 15 live in a home where parents can’t afford to put food on the table.

As well as the human cost of food waste, there is a significant environmental cost. If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of CO2 after the US and China. When food waste is disposed of in landfill, it emits methane, which is over 20 times more powerful than CO2 & contributes heavily towards global warming.

When we consider food waste, we should also consider the wastage of all the resources along the way that went into producing that food; the water, the land, the fuel used to harvest and transport the food. When we remember that the use of fossil fuels contributes significantly towards global warming, food waste means that this additional damage has been wrought with no benefit whatsoever. Growing and transporting food that is then wasted creates as much carbon pollution as 39 million cars. Infact, eradicating food waste would be the equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

The wastage of water is another significant factor when it comes to food waste. Fresh water is one of our most precious resources. 70% of the world’s fresh water is used for agricultural purposes, including crop irrigation and drinking water for livestock.

How to prevent Food Waste

There’s lots we can all do to reduce and eradicate our food waste. The average UK household wastes around £700 of food annually. It starts with only buying what you need. Shop with a list and don’t be tempted by special offers. Find recipes to use up ingredients that you already have. Find recipes to use up food that often gets wasted in your house. We love these banana muffins.

Compost what you can including vegetable peelings. Buy local produce where possible and look out for fresh food that’s in season to reduce food miles. Involve the whole family and make reducing food waste a priority in your household. It’s possibly the easiest thing you can do to reduce your carbon emissions!

For more chat around food waste, check out this panel discussion I did for The Sustainable (ish) online festival with Rachel Boyett from Little Veggie Eats and Ann Storr from Storr Cupboard, hosted by Jen Gale from a Sustainable Life. How to fight Food Waste is video no. 26 in the drop down menu in the top right of the screen.

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