Food waste. Not the most chic of topics to have graced this website, but such an incremental and damaging part in the planets changing climate. It is estimated in the UK alone, 4.5m tonnes of food a year is wasted [source: The Guardian] with all this food ending up in landfill, where it is left to rot and ultimately releases dangers toxins, such as methane into the worlds atmosphere; this being a cause of rising temperatures. It’s a huge problem yet incredibly easy to avoid. With supermarket shopping being the most convenient its ever been, the temptation to buy endless baskets of food is incredibly high for a lot of the population. But this shouldn’t be an issue, as long as that food is actually being consumed. It’s this lack of planning and organisation to eat fresh food that is causing the massive problem as mass amounts of food simply gets discarded, without a seconds thought..
It seems the food waste dilemma has signs of a shift is the right direction, as it has been reported that during Lockdown, a third less food was wasted [source: lovefoodhatewaste] it seems the slower pace of life we have experienced during the majority of 2020 now has seen a slight positive, if any positives are to come of this pandemic. It simply goes to show that pausing for a couple of seconds to consider the food we have to use, can result in a lot of good.
In comparison, statistics show that the number of adults in the UK who can’t afford to buy themselves food has doubled in the past 15 years. It’s yet another reminder of the unfair gap (that is only increasing) between the rich and poor.
The solution can be found in a number of ways. From better planning from us, the individual, eating the freshest foods in our fridges first – this knows as a ‘first in first out’ rule, freezing more meals to prolong the amount of time you have to eat it. As well as being more considerate of what you are adding to your trolley in the supermarket, asking yourself will you actually end up eating it or will it ultimately be wasted.
“At a time of growing food insecurity, no edible surplus food should ever go that far downstream” – [The Grocer 2020]
With this there is a need for tougher regulation on food outlets and supermarkets. It is estimated supermarkets alone waste up to £230 million worth of food a year [source: ecoandbeyond] with great power resting in the likes of Asda to combat the problem. For example, changes to sell by and use by dates could largely impact the food thrown away, with confusion often being brought upon, from not knowing if meats or diary is beyond its intended date of use.
Adding to this, whilst at supermarkets, the way consumers buy can help massively, buying loose items of fruits and veg, especially loose bananas as these are largely discarded; with shoppers tending to buy a bunch. Buying loose saves waste as well as cuts down on plastic.
On the whole, the issue of Food Waste is far from being sorted. With a change in attitudes as well as tougher rules to businesses needing to be implemented before a solution is found. But for now, we the population need to be more savvy with our food as we are essentially wasting thousands of pounds a year by not eating the foods we have bought. Plan your food shops, eat what we have and avoid putting foods in the bin; it’s as simple as that.
[1.] Love Food Hate Waste: website here
[2.] The Grocer: website here
[3.] BBC Bitesize: website here