Everyone has been in situations where they left food on their plates because they could not finish it. There have been instances where individuals had to throw food away since it was no longer edible. How many times did you throw away that raw vegetable because it became sour? It might not seem a big deal to those who have food on their plate every day. The ones who can go and order from any restaurant whenever they crave it. Yet, there is another side to it. That is the fact not everyone is fortunate enough to afford food.
FOOD LOSS AND FOOD WASTE:
There are two categories of wasted food. This includes food loss and food waste. Food loss refers to the food with a decrease in quality such as wilting before it can reach the consumer. This can happen at any stage of food production like harvest, storage. For example, apples that turned sour before they reached the consumer market. Due to this, it is not edible. On the other hand, food waste refers to uneaten food. However, in this case, it occurs when food i.e. perfect for consumption is discarded. For instance, people eating at a restaurant. The leftovers on their plate.
According to the FoodPrint, 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that are edible falls under the category of food waste. Besides, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN mentions that an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food go to each year. Even though one-third of it is perfect for human consumption. This costs around 2.6 trillion USD. It also mentions that this was more than enough to provide food to 815 million hungry people around the world.
SPHERES OF WASTED FOOD:
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN states that 8% of the fishes caught are discarded. This estimates to 78.3 million tons per year. Tropical shrimps rank the highest in this list of being discarded. Rounding up to over 27% of discards. This not only leads to wastage of food but also threatens to damage the ecosystem.
Food goes to waste in the manufacturing units mostly during the trimming of parts like fats, peels from fruits, etc. The FoodPrint states that 33% of this goes to feed animals. Yet, it further states that despite that around two pounds of food goes to waste in the manufacturing and production unit.
RESTAURANTS AND INSTITUTIONS-
The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab states that on average about 17% of diners leave uneaten food. While 55% of the edible leftovers are left at the restaurant. Besides, food also gets wasted in the restaurant kitchen by the staff members. Over-preparation of food items, failure to story the ingredients in a proper condition is few factors responsible for this.
A major chunk of food wastage takes place in homes. Over-preparing food, poor planning to store or manage the food items, discarding the food before the expiry date as well as purchasing more food items than required. These are some of the major reasons behind food wastage in homes. Besides, overbuying food items is another major factor in this scenario.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FOOD WASTAGE:
Food wastage has some severe environmental impacts too. The production, transportation as well as preparation of food involves the use of fuel. It also releases greenhouse gases that contribute further to global warming. The proportion of wasted food that ends up in landfills further leads to the release of methane. This is one of the major greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and global warming. Also, a report by NRDC illustrated how the resources utilized go to waste too. Food waste leads to the wastage of water used during production. This adds up to over $172 billion of wasted water. According to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the food system at a global level leads to one-third of all the human lead greenhouse gas emissions.
WAYS TO STOP IT:
Food wastage is a major global crisis. It not only adds to hunger poverty but also affects the environment at a deeper level. Therefore, to tackle this here are few ways to reduce the wastage of food:
- Do not over-prepare: One of the major reasons for food wastage was over-preparation. That is to say, more food items purchased than required. This only contributes to the crisis. Thus, the first step is to shop smartly and purchase what is necessary. This will save food as well as the expenses involved in purchasing them.
- Storage: Most individuals are unaware of the appropriate ways of storing food items. As a result of this, the food is no longer edible. Food items like onions, potatoes, etc. must be kept at room temperature. On the other side, bananas, peaches, and pears are few examples of food items that produce ethylene gas when they are ripe. Hence, one must keep them away from ethylene-sensitive food items like potatoes, berries, or apples to avoid waste.
- Preservation: Another important step is to preserve food. Individuals can do this in ways like freezing, blanching, and other ways. Finding out more about the right of preservation for particular food items will help to prevent its wastage.
- Leftovers: There is nothing bad about eating edible leftovers. Often people who do not throw it away story it in opaque containers. Subsequently, they forget about it until the food begins to have an unpleasant odor. Hence, the best way to stop this is to store food items in transparent containers. This way, it will always be in sight and people will not forget about it.
There are several other ways to prevent wastage of food. However, it is always better to begin from the grassroots level i.e. home. The following ways can be easily followed in homes and thereby one can contribute to stopping excessive wastage. Combat hunger as well as saves the environment.
Food wastage is a global crisis. It affects the lives of every person either directly or indirectly. Yet, this can be reduced and eventually stopped. Reducing wastage of food will also help to deal with hunger issues. Thus, it is always better to practice prevention along with creating awareness about this global issue.
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