International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
Did you know that one third of the food produced in the world is lost or wasted? This fact will surprise you even more: if we were to save only a quarter of the food that is wasted, we could feed 800 million people who are currently hungry. That gives a whole different meaning to that vegetable or fruit spoiling in your fridge or on the shelves at the market, doesn’t it?
To raise awareness and promote global efforts to solve this problem, the 74th United Nations General Assembly designated 29 September as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (resolution A/RES/74/209). The event, which was held for the first time this year, is an opportunity to make visible the need to reduce food loss and waste (FLW), and how that can contribute to sustainable development.
But what exactly is food loss and waste?
According to FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), we talk about loss when a food product is lost in the supply chain, from its production to the moment it reaches the market. This happens in the production, post-harvest and processing stages of the food supply chain. Food waste, however, occurs when the loss happens at the end of the supply chain and is more linked to the behaviour of sellers and consumers.
Where does it occur?
Food losses happen in three contexts. During agricultural operations, when the harvest is done at the wrong time. It is also due to weather conditions, harvesting and handling practices, and problems in marketing production. In warehouses due to inadequate storage, as well as decisions taken early in the supply chain that reduce product shelf life. Finally, during transport: obsolete equipment, technical malfunction or human error.
Furthermore, food waste occurs in two scenarios. In retail shops, due to limited shelf life of the food product; “aesthetic defects”, such as alterations in shape and size; and variability in demand. The other scenario is at home, where consumers produce waste due to poor planning of purchases and meals, over-purchasing, confusion about labels (mainly concerning best before and expiration dates), and inadequate home storage. Yes, this shows that we have much to do from our homes to support this cause.
Sustainability allows us to eat, and to eat healthily…
If we analyse waste or loss beyond our plate, our fridge or the products available at the shop, we will understand that we are not only wasting food, but also resources such as soil, seeds and water, among other supplies that have been used to produce the food. These resources are especially costly because, if well managed, they would be the key to improving the quality of life of thousands.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, food is taken for granted—that is one of the reasons why so much is wasted. However, the other side of the coin is worrying: for 800 million people, eating is a daily challenge and, on top of that, a large number of food-secure people do not always have access to fresh and healthy food. Eating and eating healthily: two major challenges that find solutions in a sustainable food system and through our individual responsibility.
While protecting the environment
Besides getting closer to the Zero Hunger goal and improving nutrition, the efficient use of land, water and energy resources makes it possible to reduce the environmental impact caused by food production (more details here ). Fundamentally, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. In addition, according to FAO data, food loss and waste consume 21% of fresh water, 18% of farmland and 21% of landfills. What are we waiting for to improve these figures?
The starting point is not very reassuring and finding a solution is everyone’s job. Click here to see the figures of all we are losing and wasting. The need is urgent: start contributing today from your home with very simple habits. JOIN US!