Food Waste

Food waste is something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while now, but putting the research in to talking about something so important takes time. I wanted to make sure that I was giving this subject time.

The Facts

If all of the food waste in the world was better managed, it could be used to end world hunger. Last year, global hunger rose for the first time in a decade to 815 million people. It’s crazy to think that at the same time worldwide obesity is also rising, according to the World Health Organisation. I came across some genuinely shocking information while researching this topic…

  1. According to the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tones — gets lost or wasted. This loss is incurred from when it’s produced to where it’s eaten.
    The UN and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about 815 million of the 7.6 billion people in the world (10.7%), were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016.
  2. The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop. To put into perspective, that was 2.3 billion tones in 2009/2010.
  3. In both Europe and North America, waste by consumers ranges between 95-115kg per year. Whereas in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia only 6-11kg is wasted per year.
  4. Food loss and waste generates about 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It was estimated by the UN, that if food wastage was a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States.
  5. In the United States alone, over 40% of food produced never gets eaten as stated in a report by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC).

What can you do?

In developing countries waste occurs during production processes, however in wealthy countries, waste is mostly driven by the consumers as well as retailers, who throw away food because they have purchased too much or because it does not meet aesthetic standards. So as consumers, we have real power to make a difference…

Be smart and realistic about what you buy

Make a detailed shopping list, stick to it, and plan your meals. This will not only save you money but will help the environment too. As well as extra unnecessary trips to the super market. Make sure to try and purchase locally sourced produce where possible, the longer the journey to get to you, the more the waste that’s incurred.


Control your portion size

We’re all guilty of cooking way too much for fear of not having enough, but this waste can be massively reduced by getting into the habit of weighing your food, following portion guidelines and when you have left overs, actually eat them.


Treat expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines 

We naturally assume that expiration dates reflect a uniform health and safety standard. However, sell by dates are actually an estimation by the manufacturer of when the food will be the freshest and at the best quality. Though they look official, trust your senses instead of the date on the packaging. Obviously, with meat or other things that could make you unwell, be a little more rigid on use by dates. 


Store food in the correct place

Storing your food at the right temperature is so important to make sure it lasts how it should. Usually, ideal storage conditions will be noted on the packaging.


Keep track of what you’re throwing away

This can help you prevent making the same mistake again.


Avoid clutter in your fridge, pantry and freezer

Use the “first in, first out” principle – after you buy new food, move the older products to the front so you use them first. Also remember that things don’t last forever in your freezer.


I’d encourage you to watch John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”, he does a well explained segment on food waste:


I really hope that you found this post interesting and useful. I’d love to know what you think?

Niamh xx


Sources for me & resources for you:


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