You can reduce food waste, start now!
Let’s talk about the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, which accounts for one third of food production
Throwing away a banana because parts of it have turned black, or not eating a yoghurt because it is one day past its sell-by date? It is a fact that a significant part of the world’s population goes hungry, but paradoxically the UN has found that one third of the food that is produced is lost or wasted in the agri-food chain. To raise awareness of this serious nonsense, 29 September has been proclaimed International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
In the European Union, this food waste accounts for the loss of around 88 million tonnes of food every year. And while there are many actors involved in this loss (such as retailers or food services), we, the end consumers, have a lot to say about it. Three of the simplest ways to reduce this food waste are by consuming all the food we buy (as in the example at the beginning of the article), putting the leftovers in specific containers and donating the food we don’t eat to food banks or organisations that will make use of it.
How the EU is tackling food waste
In 2018, the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive was revised, with the aim of protecting the environment and health by reducing waste generation. This directive called on Member States to reduce the amount of food lost during production and distribution, among other measures, in a clear commitment to the circular economy.
Subsequently, the 2019 European Green Deal marked a turning point in the EU’s commitment to halve food waste per capita by 2030. Two of its flagship initiatives were the Circular Economy Action Plan and the ‘From farm to fork’ Strategy. This sustainability strategy prioritises food security and food safety, and one of its main challenges is to reduce food loss and food waste.
Practical tips to combat food waste
Here are some tips from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for everyone to help reduce food waste in their daily lives:
· Adopt a healthier and more sustainable diet.
· Buy what is strictly necessary.
· Don’t judge food by its appearance, especially vegetables and greens.
· Store food sensibly (place it in plain sight or in hermetically sealed containers).
· Understand food labelling (best before date is a guideline, and best before date does indicate that food should not be eaten).
· Serve smaller portions or share larger dishes in restaurants.
· Do not discard leftovers and freeze them or reuse them as an ingredient for another meal.
· Composting food waste.
· Learn about food production, appreciating its importance and also learning about the role played by local producers.
· Support these local producers and zero kilometre to contribute to the care of the environment and the economy of small local businesses.
· Consume fish that has been caught or farmed in a sustainable way and avoid, as far as possible, species that are at risk of overfishing, such as cod or tuna.
· Using less water as a consumer ultimately benefits producers in having water available to produce their food.
· Dispose of potentially hazardous products in specific containers to avoid soil or water contamination. For example, chemicals, batteries, paint, fertilisers, tyres, ink cartridges or medicines.
· Share and donate unused food or surplus food.
As you can see, these are measures that we can do every day in our homes, so the fight against food waste has become an obligation. Let’s start putting it into practice now!