Can we eliminate food loss and waste?
With 8 billion people and 800 million facing food insecurity every day, we have to eliminate food loss and waste from Sustainable Circular Economy
Throw it away
I remember as a "young pup" going to the supermarket with my mom and seeing the vegetable guy sorting through the veggies and throwing a bunch away. He was removing the fruit and vegetables that did not meet his eye for beauty; a tomato without a perfect skin, a slightly misshaped potato.
I did not think much of it then - but my mom did; always taking what she could to feed 5 hungry mouths. Mom would say, "nothing wrong with the quality and taste, and so long ago, one of the first I imagine to combat food loss and waste.
Can you believe it? Up to 40% of the world's food is wasted every day. We could do the world a world of good with that food!
What is happening today?
Why isn't government doing something about it? We do not see it; politically, it probably is not "sexy," so government throws our money at things that largely do not work - have we hit our greenhouse gas targets yet?
And it is not only the people who continue to starve. There are other truth and consequence from impacts on water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions
Within the context of this article, there are two problems: - during and just after harvesting. That is estimated to be about a $600 billion loss per year. Shouldn't we be addressing this as a societal and environmental priority?
1. Food Loss - food being wasted in stores, restaurants, and households.
2. Food Waste is food that we just throw out. Scrape it off our plates, or cook too
much. It is considered waste and in our haste, we just throw it out.
What can be done?
Food loss should become a societal and environmental priority. $600 billion, is a huge annual opportunity loss. It is suggested that the loss is due to inefficiencies, and the hidden costs are often equal to or greater than retailers’ net profit.
Much of the discussion focuses on food waste - we can see what is left on our plates or the table at home, and ends up in the garbage.
We can see the pile food thrown out at the restaurant. This issue can be addressed with logical action - we see it, we can fix it, but what about food loss?
Why is food loss not a priority? Probably because it is not "sexy." On a political scale of 1 - 10, would it even register?
Is it all bad news?
No, it is not. There are achievable solutions. With food loss, manufacturers and retailers need to be brought together with government to sort this out. One action is optimizing production to suit the market - and that brings me to my soapbox for a moment.
What is My Soapbox?
In case you do not know, for the past 20-odd years, I have been
working, almost exclusively with First Nation communities, working
to do the world a world of good, helping them deliver on their social,
economic, and environmental goals, amongst a list of a bunch of
other things. The most humbling and satisfying experience anyone
could ever want or have.
But quickly, my soapbox. Four First Nation communities,
representing more than 5,000 residents, most facing economic food
insecurity, applied to a federal government program for capital
funding to build year-round vertical farms.
The community members face daily food costs that are 246% higher
than in Vancouver, and generates a huge amount of CO2 with the
transportation from down south.
Looking at the opportunity, the First Nation communities went
through all the 100-day hoops. In the end, the bureaucrats said,
"Not approved as the proposal did not address food insecurity."
That was the major focus of the application - and who, for the life of
me, could not get their head around replacing leafy greens and
vegetables that are trucked in 5,000 kms and cost 246 % more, not
address food insecurity?
We are meeting with the bureaucrats who are somewhat hiding
behind "confidentiality," to make it difcult for us to get their
reasoning documents. I guess we will do a FOI request.
Back to Food Loss and Waste
There are solutions, and protable one's at that. More than two
billion tons of food are lost or wasted every year and with the right
incentives, we could capture that.
And to use tomatoes as an example, out of every 100 tomatoes only up to 72% make it to our store shelves. In the developing world, the the number making it drops to a maximum of 58%.
Lots of room there to make a significant difference.
First step is recognizing and accepting that there will have to be a fundamental way that people work together. But the opportunities are huge - for tomatoes alone, the potential impact is more than 40 million tons saved every year. Globally, CO2 emissions linked to tomato loss would fall by 60 to 80 percent.
How can we do this?
By dropping a "pebble into the sea." Solve a small problem first; with tomatoes, why not start with a single farm and grow solutions from that?
The Bottom Line.
Decide what to and do it. Data will never be perfect, hindsight only helps with foresight, and not doing anything is not the answer.
There are specific strategies that can be taken and at Sustainable Circular Economy, we would be happy to help develop these. Our goal is to help communities and companies do the world a world of good by developing actions that are good for
the people, the planet and sustainability. All part of a circular economy.
If you, your community or company would like to discuss how we
We want to be part of the solution.