Why waste food?
Baptiste Dubanchet spent the month of April touring Europe and eating out of trashcans. He did not do it out of necessity or compulsion. It was his choice. The 25-year-old Frenchman was protesting against food waste in Europe. When billions are starving worldwide, it is difficult to digest that America alone wastes 40 percent of its produced food. Food waste happens when food is grown but not distributed or sold. This unused food ends up in a landfill somewhere instead of a plate.
Food waste happens because of us and only we can help prevent it. Food waste starts from the farms where misshaped or “ugly” produce end up as leftovers after harvest. This is because customers are attracted to “beautiful” fruits and vegetables like the ones they see in TV commercials. A lot of good food from restaurants end up as trash because customers forget to either pick up their orders or order more than they can eat. Retail stores also end up disposing large quantities of edible food items that have reached their expiry dates.
Knowing the problem is half the solution, they say. Every day, people like us are making a conscious effort to reduce food wastage. Gleaning, composting, food rescue and eating “nose to tail” are some innovative ways that help reduce food wastage.
Gleaning involves collecting the leftover “ugly” crops from farms and distributing them for welfare. Volunteers donate the gleaned food to non-profits, food banks or school lunch programs. The Society of St Andrews in America and the Gleaning Network in the UK are two such organizations that have dedicated themselves to this cause.
What produces good food? The answer is food itself. In Chicago, farmers collect uneaten or leftover food from restaurants. They use this food to create compost, which in turn improves the quality of their crops. They sell the fresh produce back to the same restaurants from where they got the unused food. This completes a food conservation cycle called the Compost Circuit. Composting is a great way of recycling food and minimizing wastage. If you have a garden, you can actually start a compost circuit in your own home.
Food rescue and redistribution
Various communities have come together to collect unused food from farms, supermarkets or retail stores and redistribute them to the poor or needy. Food redistribution benefits the food companies too. The donated food helps them avoid large costs of disposal like landfill taxes. The UK has a team called Feeding the 5000 that organizes an event where 5000 members of the public are given a delicious free lunch using only ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted.
Eating Nose to Tail
In many places, chefs and restaurant owners have started using the whole animal from nose to tail in their recipes and menus. They believe that by reducing wastage they are paying respect to the animal.
Food waste prevention starts at home. By being more responsible about the food we buy and eat, we can help save the world.