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The power of food waste

August 25, 2014

What if I tell you that wasting food is actually not only about wasting food? What if I tell you that wasting food influences transport, marketing, or even science and greenhouse emissions? Whoa! Sounds incredible, but… it’s true! If you are a food waster you are not alone. We all are, however we don’t realize it.

Green fields of wheat grown in China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan – putting all together – that’s how much food we waste. It means we don’t use 1/3 of global harvest which is for Europeans 95kg (!) of food waste per year. Can you imagine yourself going out from a shop with 3 bags full of goodies and just throw away one of them to the closest rubbish bin?

We all consider that the way of our food to our plate starts in supermarket. That’s natural. But how did it get there? From growing in the farm, through processing, packing, transporting to marketing actions to make us buy it. If we waste food, all used resources are gone: soil and water to grow it (yearly we waste an amount of Volga River), electricity, fuel and millions of Euros. In return we increase greenhouse gases and reduce available  land. It means we would need two Earths for our supplies in nearly 100 years.

Fortunately there are good news! We still have a lot of space and will for improvement. Here are 5 simple steps for utilising food waste (inspired by The Pyramid of Food Waste):

  1. Be conscious and reduce your own food waste – we don’t even realize when we throw away a half pack of rotten tomatoes or grapes. It’s so obvious, isn’t it? Remember it’s also a waste of your own money. We don’t have to turn info freegans but how about conscious buying only food we actually eat? If you need some tips and inspiration click here.
  2. Share it with others – while we are throwing our food away there are people out there who would be happy to eat it. You can donate food to the local charity or ask your neighbour to join you for a meal. There are some creative project focused on reducing food and making a community out there. Check out the closest The Dinner Exchange or Feeding the 5,000 events. Or maybe you fancy a dinner in a restaurant which is collecting food which otherwise would be wasted.
  3. Feed animals – and I don’t mean sharing dinner with your begging dog. Did you know that we have domesticated pigs when we discovered it is a perfect solution to reduce our food waste and turn it into nutritious meat? It is natural, healthy (for both sides) and simple. Maybe it will be a good idea to come back to this practice? The Pig Idea is a main ambassador of this action.
  4. Segregate and compost it yourself – do you have an allotment? You can make your own compost from your own food waste. It’s hard to get to use to it at the begging (I have gone through it myself) but after some time you will save unused food waste, money for buying compost, grow perfectly healthy fruits and vegetables and become an ambassador of food waste management. Check out here how to do this.
  5. Segregate and let industry use it – we are right now implementing a project on this! The PlasCarb project will convert food waste into biogas mixture of methane and carbon dioxide to obtain graphitic carbon and renewable hydrogen. It’s epic! And it’s not the only project in this field. Different companies are making biofuels from food waste and some of them – like Sainsbury are reusing their own waste.

The last stage of food waste management is disposal, but do we have to worry about that if we will follow the above 5 steps?

Here you can find references and inspiration for this article (beside of links from the text):

http://www.feeding5k.org/food-waste-facts.php

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28092034

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/11/how-cut-down-food-waste

http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWC_zDdF74s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoCVrkcaH6Q

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