By Larraine Roulston :
To follow up on Fredrica’s recent article that noted nearly 800 million people do not have enough food to live a healthy life, Green-Mom feels this issue is serious enough to merit even more attention. As well as knowing that up to forty percent of all our food worldwide is being wasted, we should be aware that an estimated 25% of America’s fresh water use is channeled towards the production of food that never gets eaten. Food waste is generated by individuals, processors, farmers, retailers, hotel/restaurant personnel, transporters and distributors. There are many campaigns, from governments to everyday citizens, combating the problem.
GOVERNMENTS: As already noted in the first “Fighting Food Waste Worldwide” article, France took a leading role with its new law, unanimously passed by the senate, preventing supermarkets from trashing quality food as it passes its “best before” date. In addition to the many countries already mentioned, Washington lawmakers recently introduced The Food Date Labeling Act, which will standardize labeling to reduce confusion and food waste, save money, and simplify regulatory compliance for companies. It also mandates that food be allowed to be sold or donated following its “best before” date. Another law allows tax deductions for businesses that donate food.
RESEARCH & EDUCATION: Researchers have discovered that unusually shaped fruits and vegetables with other blemishes have hidden health benefits. These characteristics are seen as a sign of having battled an infection and won, resulting in a stronger, more antioxidant-packed food. The (National Pacific Radio) NPR’s The Salt blog explains these findings by Virginia orchardist, Eliza Greenman. In Sicily, part of the University of Messina’s Food Innovation Summer School Mediterraneo course offers a study of agricultural and food waste.
BUSINESSES & CORPORATIONS: Food retailers are removing the confusion over date labels that cause most people to trash edible food prematurely. The term “expiry date” sends a message of contamination, though these labels really were designed simply for customers’ benefit, to indicate when the producer feels the items will have reached their peak quality time. This uncertainty has caused Americans to throw away an estimated $29bn of edible food. Walmart has taken steps nationally requiring suppliers of its label line of non-perishable foods to standardize the words “Best If Used By.” Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, feels that “A better solution would be making it so consumers don’t even see a date label, and are less able to be confused.” Other initiatives from this food giant have been to educate customers by offering food saving tips.
GRASSROOTS: LeftOvers Calgary in Canada is just one of the many nonprofit groups that redirect leftover food from bakeries, cafes and grocery stores. Every week its 60 active volunteer drivers and 70 part-time volunteers help deliver over 900 kilograms (2,000 lbs.) of donated food to shelters, churches and service agencies. Founded in 2012, LeftOvers Calgary | Combating food waste and helping those in need now works with 20 different service agencies and 25 vendors whose donations match the recipients’ requirements. Such beneficiaries include the Boys and Girls Clubs to ensure that food is actually being consumed.
CITIZENS: Although much more education is needed, many groups are stepping up to the plate with creative ways to combat the problem. As well, household cooks who are aware of the high environmental and economic costs to supply their “field to fork” menus are beginning to shop and plan more efficiently.
This is the decade when every government, business and organization should have Environmental Advisors and every household, a Food Waste Recycling Super Hero!
Larraine authors the children’s Pee Wee at Castle Compost adventure series at www.castlecompost.com