Effects of Food Waste
- Biodiversity loss
Food wastage impacts on biodiversity loss at a global level. To maximize agricultural yields, farmers have increasingly invaded wild areas in search of more fertile lands which has led to the loss of biodiversity. The reason for this is that practices such as slash and burn, deforestation, and conversion of wild areas into farmlands have destroyed the natural habitats for birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians.
Agricultural practices such as mono-cropping have also compounded biodiversity loss. The mass rearing of livestock for consumption and the use of pesticides in crop production has also significantly contributed to nitrogen, phosphorous, and chemical pollution in streams, rivers, and coastal waters thus affecting marine life.
- Wastage of the 1/3 of the world fertile land areas
According to research, the produced but unconsumed food accounts for approximately 1.4 billion hectares of land, constituting almost 1/3 of the planet’s agricultural land. By looking at this from a well thought analytical angle, the world is wasting 30 percent of the world’s fertile land which could be used for other meaningful purposes such as environmental research.
- Bluewater footprint
The volume of water used in agricultural food production is immense. Therefore, if 30 percent of all the food produced goes to waste, then it means that more than 30 percent of freshwater used in the production and processing of food also goes to waste. This contributes to the blue water footprint which refers to the amount of consumed surface and groundwater resources that goes to waste.
Precise estimations indicate that food wastage is responsible for the wastage of nearly 250 cubic kilometers (km3) of water. This wastage is equivalent to thrice the volume of Lake Geneva. It is also affirmed that throwing out a kilogram of beef amounts to a waste of 50,000 liters of water used in the meat production process. Similarly, 1000 liters of water is wasted if one glass of milk is poured down the drain.
- Increased carbon footprint and the acceleration of climate change
The food produced and then later goes to waste is estimated to be equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emission, accelerating the impacts of climate change. Research also has it that food waste is the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The reason for this is the consideration for the energy wasted and the primary use of fossil fuels in food production including processing and cooking together with transportation to various consumer markets worldwide. What’s more, the methane gas produced at landfills by food thrown out as waste further aggravates climate change and global warming.
- Economic consequences
In addition to the environmental impacts, food wastage also results from indirect economic costs. According to FAO’s report estimates, the economic losses associated with food wastage is about 750 billion dollars per annum.
Amazing Solutions to Food Waste
- Balancing food production with demand
Foremost, precedence should be centered on balancing food production with the demand to reduce the problem of food wastage. The first thing is to cut back on the use of natural resources in food production. In hotels, restaurants, and the foodservice industry, risk management tools can be applied.
Such a tool will work towards ensuring managers and chefs only produce and cook food in accordance with demand or the orders made. Producing large batches of food has always resulted in food wastage. So in trying to save food, labor, and money, hotels and the entire foodservice industry should work on the production of small batches or use the cook-to-order option.
- Bettering food harvesting, storage, processing, and distribution processes
The second strategy should be placed on developing efficient technologies and production systems that better storage, harvesting, processing, and distribution processes. Redistribution can be the initial strategy for supplying or distributing more food to where there is a need and reducing supply where food is in surplus.
Harvesting, storage, and processing should also be improved by governments and NGOs by availing subsidies and training on better production practices, especially in developing countries.
- Food waste reduction initiatives
Supermarkets, retail food outlets, big restaurants, and individual consumers all alike can also work on their own tailored and creative efforts to reduce food footprint. For instance, individual consumers can cut back their food footprint by not necessarily placing a high preference for the very best food quality.
At times even the ugly or blemished food items are still edible or can be purchased then used to make dishes like soups. Over-merchandizing can also be reduced to minimize food wastage.
- Consumers to buy and prepare food with a plan
The use of meal plans in preparing food can go a long way in ending food wastage. Consumers should only buy food according to their plans or in small batches to reduce the food that goes to waste due to expiration after long storage periods.
- Food recycling
Food recycling efforts are already underway but the technologies and methods used should be bettered. Starch-rich foodstuffs such as crisps, bread, biscuits, and breakfast cereals can, for instance, be recycled into high quality feeds for livestock.
The recycling of the food packaging materials can equally reduce over-exploitation of virgin material. If it’s completely unfit for consumption, it can still be converted for other uses instead of being taken to the landfills to emit methane gas.
- Foodprint campaigns
Campaigns for reducing food footprint can help fishers, farmers, supermarkets, food processors, individual consumers, and the local and national governments to work on strategies for preventing food wastage.
9 Easy Food Waste Solutions
These are 9 surprisingly effective ways to reduce food waste, and they’re just good habits that anyone can easily take up.
- Respect Your Food: Shop Efficiently
Just don’t overbuy. Buy enough to make sure they all get digested in your stomach. It both helps reducing food waste and numbers at the bottom of the grocery bills.
- Be Smart About Food Storage
Here’s a true fact about foods that many people, surprisingly, do not know: Foods can be contaminated if not stored properly.
If you’ve been applying the freezing method your entire life, there are also other tips that you might find helpful:
Not everything freezes and then tastes well when reheated, especially those with high water content. It can freeze alright, but once the ice crystals are formed, unfreezing them results in limpy greens that are no longer crispy to the bite.
- If you’re storing raw meat, be sure to take a clean paper towel and lightly wipe all over the surface to absorb all moisture. Molds form in moist surfaces more quickly than usual.
- For meals that are supposed to be eaten during the day and there’s no room in the fridge, at least cover it with reusable food wrap. A portion of food left out in the open air is the best home for disease-causing pathogens!
- Buy Now
- Don’t Be Picky!
“This apple tastes supreme, but the core with 99% edible flesh and 2 inedible seeds seems to repel, so I’m throwing away the core.”
“These strawberries’ sweetness is divine, but I’m going to cut out and discard the top with half of it being the edible flesh and the other being the stem.”
If somehow you possess one of these thoughts, you are contributing to the production of food waste more than you already are.
Pick out the seeds and eat the whole apple. There are like 2 or 3 of them. Pick the stems out with your hands.
Remember to utilize everything, even your food. Isn’t this just a thing we all should do?
- Date Your Food
“How long has this thing been in here? Can I still eat it?”
Stop asking yourself these kinds of questions and start putting labels with dates of storage on them.
You won’t have to throw away food just because you’re not sure if it’s edible or not anymore.
- Reuse to Reduce: Transform scraps to vegetable broth
Food scraps might look unappetizing and unsuitable to be served on plates, but they don’t necessarily belong to the trash bin.
Fill the pot of vegetable or meat scraps with plain water, heat it on low for 2-3 hours and you’ll have a delicious (and nutritious!) broth for risotto, soups, or even stews.
- Don’t Throw Your Food Away If It’s Not Expired Yet
Although this seems quite obvious, many people still throw their foods away, especially when it’s close to their expiration dates.
So, should you throw it away when it’s past the expiration date? It depends.
“Best if Used By, Best By, Best Before” are terms that indicate a product is best to be used before that date, not the expiration date.
The product is still used within several days after this date.
“Use By”, meanwhile, can be a little tricky to denote. While it means “throw-away” date in the EU, it conveys “still usable but tastes worse after [date]” to consumers in the U.S.
Either way, for the sake of your health, throw the product away when it’s past the “Use By” date.
“Expires on” is the “deadline” for your food: after this date, the product is no longer usable.
So, by knowing your terms, you just saved quite some money and the planet.
- Transform Leftovers to Casseroles
Leftovers could sometimes look quite… unappealing. I mean, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for you and you’re feeling good. You deserve new food, not a boring tray of leftovers.
Make yourself a new tray of casserole by adding more: bundles of veggies, put some mashed potatoes on top, and sprinkle some cheese on top to bake until golden brown.
If it’s veggies, add in strips of baked chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper and eat as is, or with cooked rice.
Isn’t that the way the legendary pizzas were invented in the first place? The key to reducing food waste comes down to just a matter of creativity.
- Dispose of Smartly: Install a Garbage Disposal
In some countries, like Japan, for example, trash is categorized and treated differently.
Therefore, food waste gets to be chopped up into small pieces in factories and either decomposed into plant food or buried in landfills to produce methane gas, a source of fuel.
However, in many other countries, organic waste is oftentimes dumped directly down the drain.
This could easily clog the drain and cause great damages to the drainage system, which is not designed to deal with big chunks of solid food waste.
With a garbage disposal machine right under your sink, food waste can be pulverized and essentially liquefied, making it easier for the system to deliver it to the right place.
There are currently loads of garbage disposals on the market, with different brands featuring their unique functions. It’s not easy to choose what you need amongst that big collection.
I highly recommend you check out this article to have the most accurate reviews regarding each kind. Super clear and straight to the point.
- Raise Earthworms
Composting is the most effective method of treating food waste, and unlike general assumption, it can happen right inside your house.
This may sound a bit creepy, raising a bunch of earthworms in a box somewhere near your kitchen, where you cook.
But considering that raising these little compost makers turns out to be quite helpful in turning your life eco-friendly, isn’t it worth the effort?
Simply go to a fish store, get a box of them, put some soil in it, and start throwing in food scraps. The smaller the pieces, the quicker these worms work their magic.Now
Oh and don’t feed them meat (any kind of meat), bones, fish, dairy products, and oily foods as these will produce an odor that attracts flies.
After just a few days, you’ll have plenty of rich soil to grow onions, potatoes, or any house plants for your kitchen!