In spite if repeated warnings (‘shamings’) of Western Society for wasting so much of the food it produces, food waste is still increasing, according to a new report on the findings of a major survey conducted by two major Canadian organizations which advocate responsible food use…
The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste report, based on the work of national food rescue organization Second Harvest and Value Chain Management International, a major world voice for food conservation, shows that food wastage in Canada (and, presumably, across the developed world) has increased over the past couple of years to nearly 60 percent.
I just can’t understand why almost two thirds of the food we grow is never used to feed people. That’s two of every three Apples in the bag; two of every three heads of Lettuce; two of every three Carrots grown. Use whatever illustration you wish. It’s simply unacceptable that all that food is going to waste. Not to mention all the energy it takes to produce and transport it, and all the human effort that goes into growing and packing it.
It doesn’t make sense, business-wise, but…
“There is no social, environmental or business case for food waste, and yet it has become standard operating procedure in the food industry, not just in Canada but globally,” Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, told reporters at the report’s official release in Toronto earlier this week. “But with this research, we all now have the data and the tools to transform this crisis into a triple-bottom-line win across the value chain.”
The report is the first of its kind to look at front-line data from across the entire food chain, analyzing information from more than 700 leading food industry firms. Funded in large part by the Walmart Foundation, it created a standardized system of measurement by which any food business can track and (we hope) reduce their waste.
Long list of causes identified…
The report identifies a list of almost 30 ‘root causes’ of food waste in the food chain. The most serious include:
- The acceptance by the food industry that food waste is an integral and unavoidable – a cost of doing business.
- The effect of ‘safe’ (conservative) Best Before dates that cause supermarkets and consumers to throw away perfectly good food before it actually becomes inedible.
- The ‘perfect’ food mindset, which encourages producers to send to market – and supermarket retailers to display – only perfectly shaped, sized and coloured foods.
- Reluctance by the food industry – especially late-chain members such as supermarkets and restaurants – to donate surplus food to Food Banks, Community Kitchens and Missions.
- Onerous health regulations that make it hard for those who want to donate, and those who want to accept donations, to do so.
A rebrand of ‘Ugly’ food is needed…
Instead of referring to ‘Ugly’ and imperfect food as ‘waste’, we should be referring to it as ‘surplus’. That one ‘identity’ change could make a lot of people think differently about surplus food and what how it should be used. And that change of attitude, according to the report, could lead the way to reducing food waste by almost half.
No more excuses. Let’s all do whatever we can to reduce food waste.
~ Maggie J.