Food waste is the food which is discarded because it is not eaten, is not good for eating, is spoiled, or is expired. It includes whatever we consume for eating in any form like solid, liquid, raw, cooked, etc. In this blog let’s explore how we can eliminate Food Waste through our wise shopping of veggies, fruits, groceries, and any edible items.
What was the food waste context 30 years back? I grew up in a family and surroundings who did farming. I remember many people around had one or many cows, buffalos, dogs as their family members who also helped in farming and guarding activities. The neighborhood was fine and there was a constant exchange of special dishes cooked on Sundays and during festivals. The leftover food got Composted which in turn was used in the farms. Back then Biogas was almost everywhere in villages. I Think, the food basically was not a waste in those old days. First, unused but good condition food was given to animals directly or through their feeds for eating, and secondly, it was converted into Compost and Biogas. The storing of food was wise for long-lasting use in farming as seeds for next year and for eating. Everything was so Organic back then!
Now, in today’s world, things are different. The population is shifting to urban and cities. Families are nuclear. We see neighbors rarely. Farming is less popular. Growing and maintaining farming animals is not always possible. We consume more but compost very little. Most of the things are modern and technology-driven. And food waste is becoming a major problem.
According to the UN estimates one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted which is about 1.3 billion tons of food waste per year. These numbers are worrying for multiple reasons. At one end food waste produces greenhouse gas emissions that affect the environment and on the other end, our world is not hunger-free yet, and still, so much food is getting wasted. Today, more than 690 million people regularly go to bed hungry (UN).
Pope Francis quotes,
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.”, and indeed that seems logical.
I think food waste should be our default concern from humanity and environmental point of view.
What can we do to reduce our food waste? Let’s consider the buying stage of the food supply chain where we as buyers and consumers can play major roles in food waste reduction.
I started believing this concept that eliminating food waste begins at the time of shopping when a few years back I realized that I had to discard some food items because they expired. I did not have stacking habits, yet this happened. This could happen with any of us or family. As sometimes we forget to consume it before its date as we may eat outside, attend some functions, may happen to visit our home towns or relatives. Thus, whatever we bought for our home is not looked upon. It is not only food wastage but also our money, packaging, and resource wastage. Then I started to buy cautiously and plan shopping wisely. So, here is all what I did to do to become a sustainable consumer, and it might help in your journey too.
Check your Kitchen Before Going Shopping: Yes, this is the first and important thing to do. Check your cupboards, fridge, and storage containers to see what you have in stock.
Don’t Over-buy: Go back to the old days where we used to have a penned list of items we need to buy for our kitchen. This list will help you not to crave for unnecessary shopping and get into the trap of today’s marketing tricks.
Check the Date: Nowadays most of the food items come in packaging. Buy the things which you are gonna use before it actually expires. Always check the dates while buying. Learn about the date significance as they are as per food security standards. The ‘use-by’, ‘use-before’, ‘best-before’, ‘expiry date’, ‘valid-by’ etc. are different ways the dates might be mentioned. If not sure about the meaning, ask before buying. And best is to buy fresh without packaging or with sustainable packaging.
Buying in Bulk? Be Cautious!: Often people nowadays go for bulk buying, which is fine at certain times like Lockdown due to Pandemic. Buy bulk if it has a shelf life and if you can store properly for a long time or required period. Learn information about safe food storing methods.
Plan Your Shopping: Yes, plan your shopping according to your holidays, festivals, family programs, outings, and necessity. We may know such things at least a month advance, so we can plan accordingly.
Buy and Consume Fresh: Some veggies and fruits rot early naturally or if not stored properly. So buy when you are soon going to consume them. If your fridge is always full of veggies, it is more likely that you will cause food waste more often. So, let it not be full all the time, also for the reason that you will look around in the kitchen to cook something else before the expiry of raw material.
Keep the Previous Shopping Items List in the Kitchen: It happens that apart from our planned shopping we might run to the grocery shop in between when we plan to cook something different. The previous shopping list is a quick guide to check if you bought that item previously and reconfirm availability. So don’t waste the items list as well. This can be reused and also rechecked for the availability of the items.
Food at Restaurants? Be Sensible!: Going to restaurants or eating outside is also food shopping where we pay and eat immediately. So order what you can eat and finish. Make sure you do not waste anything on your dish.
Never Do Panic Shopping: It happens that sometimes we tend to do panic shopping. The examples being: when we have invited some guests to our home or when there is an upcoming festival. A recent popular example is of pandemic lockdowns where people rush in a panic to stack as much as possible because of uncertainty. This is not at all a proper way to deal with such things. Never ever do panic shopping as you might end up in more food waste than consumption.
Track Money Waste if not Food Waste: When we waste food items as it has rotten or expired, in a way we are wasting our money as well as somebody else money. If not food waste, money waste surely hurts you. So keep track of how much money you are wasting with your every food waste. And then go back to the above list to save on money along with the food waste.
“Cutting food waste is a delicious way of saving money, helping to feed the world and protect the planet”
– Tristram Stuart
Let’s reduce and eliminate food waste as food is what gives us energy and keeps us alive, so let’s respect it! And the bonus part is reducing food waste automatically leads to reducing many other types of wastages. And that is what we all want, right?
Do share your journey as a sustainable consumer and how you are eliminating your food waste. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org