Not many people feel it
Not many people feel it, but food waste is something that affects everyone, even the one reading. It happens anywhere that food exists; grocery stores, restaurants, homes, schools, farms, factories, production and even in transportation. It affects people everywhere, those living oceans away and those that are a border away, businesses and households.
More than 50% of waste occurs during the production and storage phase, meaning, the trees and plants were cut down for absolutely no reason. The amount of food waste depends on the region, middle and higher income regions show greater food loss and waste than in developing countries. Waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s more powerful than carbon dioxide, which can lead to global warming and climate change. 1.4 billion hectares of land – around ? of the world’s farming land – are used to grow food that gets wasted, also millions of gallons of oil are wasted to produce food that isn’t eaten. (Dana).
Basically, food loss or food waste is food that is lost during any of the four stages of the food supply chain: growing, processing, selling, and consuming. Food loss is the decrease in quantity or quality of food. Food loss in the production and distribution segments of the food supply chain is mainly a function of the food production and supply system or its institutional and legal framework.
Our resources are being fed to animals just so they would produce meat which is then turned into fast food – burgers, hotdogs etc. If cheap food encourages unhealthy eating and dumps costs on the environment and healthcare, is it cheap?
Food waste continues in the post-harvest stage, but the amounts of post-harvest loss involved are relatively unknown and difficult to estimate. Regardless, the variety of factors that contribute to food waste, both biological/environmental and socio-economical, would limit the usefulness and reliability of general figures. In storage, considerable quantitative losses can be attributed to pests and microorganisms. This is a particular problem for countries that experience a combination of heat and ambient humidity, as such conditions encourage the reproduction of insect pests and microorganisms. Losses in the nutritional value, caloric value and edibility of crops, by extremes of temperature, humidity or the action of microorganisms, also account for food waste; these “qualitative losses” are more difficult to assess than quantitative ones. Further losses are generated in the handling of food and by shrinkage in weight or volume.
Some of the food waste produced by processing can be difficult to reduce without affecting the quality of the finished product. Food safety regulations are able to claim foods which contradict standards before they reach markets. Although this can conflict with efforts to reuse food waste, safety regulations are in place to ensure the health of the consumer; they are vitally important, especially in the processing of foodstuffs of animal origin, as contaminated products from these sources can lead to and are associated with microbiological and chemical hazards.
Packaging protects food from damage during its transportation from farms and factories via warehouses to retailing, as well as preserving its freshness upon arrival. packaging can compromise efforts to reduce food waste in other ways, such as by contaminating waste that could be used for animal feedstocks.
In 2013 the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council performed research that they state suggests that the leading cause of food waste in America is due to uncertainty over food expiration dates, such as confusion in deciphering best before, sell-by or use-by dates. Joined by Harvard Law, the NRDC produced a study called The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Leads to Food Waste in America. This United States-based study looked at the intertwining laws which lead labeling to end up unclear and erratic. This uncertainty leads to consumers to toss food, most often because they think the food may be unsafe or misunderstand the labeling on the food completely. Lack of regulation on labeling can result in large quantities of food being removed from the market overall.
Retailers usually have strict cosmetic standards for produce, and if fruits or vegetables are misshapen or superficially bruised, they are often not put on the shelf. In the United States, an estimated six billion pounds of produce is wasted each year because of its appearance. In a study done in 2009, it was estimated that nearly 20 to 40 percent of fruit and vegetables in the UK alone are rejected before they even reach retailers, as a result of high cosmetic standards. The USDA publishes guidelines used as a baseline assessment by produce distributors, grocery stores, restaurants and other consumers in order to rate the quality of food. These guidelines and how they rate are readily available on their website. For example, apples get graded by their size, color, wax residue, firmness, and skin appearance. If an apples rank highly in these categories and show close to no superficial defects, they are rated as “U.S. Extra Fancy” or “U.S. Fancy”, these are the typical ratings sought out by grocery stores when purchasing their produce. Any apples with suboptimal levels of appearance are ranked as either “U.S. Number 1” or “Utility” and are not normally purchased for retail, as recommended by produce marketing sources, despite being safe and edible.
The fish industry also contributes to the annual amount of food waste because of cosmetic standards that the fish are held up to. Nearly “2.3 million tonnes of fish discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year.” Approximately 40 to 60 percent of “all fish caught in Europe is discarded – either because they are the wrong size or species.”
Excessive purchasing, over-preparation and unwillingness to consume leftovers are some of the main antecedents of food waste. As author Gustavo Porpino states, “they are embedded in cultural practices such as hospitality, the good mother identity, taste for abundance, and food seen as wealth”.
Consumers are directly and indirectly responsible for wasting a lot of food, which could for a large part be avoided if they were willing to accept suboptimal food that deviates in sensory characteristics or has a best-before date that is approaching or has passed, but is still perfectly fine to eat. COSUS is a SUSFOOD ERA-net research project under the topic ‘Understanding consumer behaviour to encourage a sustainable food choice’.
The 2011 SIK study estimated the total of global food loss and waste to around one third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, amounting to about per year. As the following table shows, industrialized and developing countries differ substantially. In developing countries, it is estimated that 400–500 calories per day per person are going to waste, while in developed countries 1,500 calories per day per person are wasted. In the former, more than 40% of losses occur at the postharvest and processing stages, while in the latter, more than 40% of losses occur at the retail and consumer levels. The total food waste by consumers in industrialized countries is almost equal to the entire food production in sub-Saharan Africa .
In Singapore, of food was wasted in 2014. Of that, were recycled. Since Singapore has limited agriculture ability, the country spent about S$14.8 billion on importing food in 2014. US$1.4 billion of it ends up being wasted, or 13 percent.
In the UK, per year of wasted food amounts to a cost of £10.2 billion each year. This represents costs of £250 to £400 a year per household.
Estimates of food waste in the United States range from 35 million tons to 103 million tons. The University of Arizona conducted a study in 2004, which indicated that 14 to 15% of United States edible food is untouched or unopened, amounting to $43 billion worth of discarded, but edible, food. In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture has come forth with estimations from the Economic Research Service that approximates food waste in the United States to be equivalent to 141 trillion calories.
Food waste is something that affects everyone. It happens anywhere that food exists; grocery stores, restaurants, our homes, at schools, on farms, in factories, in production and even in transportation. It affects people everywhere, those living oceans away and those that are a border away, businesses and households.
Is the problem food waste, or is it that we don’t stop to acknowledge that there is an issue?. Not only does it affect the environment but also the economy. Of the total of food loss that is going on, about 40 percent is in households. Overall a typical household of four, loses about 600 dollars in food a year.
Like many things, we just don’t bother or we don’t feel that we have the time. We aren’t realizing how much it affects each one of us. Have you ever taken the time to stop and think about it?
Thinking about it, I realize that every day I throw something away that could be saved and eaten later. Whatever the reason, I realize that it does affect me in many ways and it’s constantly happening at home.
Food Waste affects our wallets because we are essentially throwing out money. At the same time it is impacting us financially it’s also playing a huge role in the problems we see happening to our environment.
Our resources are being fed to animals just so they would produce meat which is then turned into fast food – burgers, hotdogs etc. If cheap food encourages unhealthy eating and dumps costs on the environment and healthcare, is it cheap? (Lang Professor of Food Policy, City, University of London, Tim. “Food waste is the symptom, not the problem.” The Conversation, 25 June 2013, 6:50 am, www.theconversation.com/food-waste-is-the-symptom-not-the-problem-15432)
Over the past 30 years, 17% more food is produced and almost half of it doesn’t get eaten. In the United States, food production uses 50% of land, 20% of all energy resources, and swallows 80% of all freshwater. Reducing food losses by just 15% would save enough food to feed 25 million people every year. (Rowland, Michael Pellman. “Here’s How We Solve Our Food Waste Problem.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Aug. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpellmanrowland/2017/08/28/food-waste-solution/#5a35b9324d17)
Uneaten food equals to 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases