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Don’t waste it before you taste it!

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

About one third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away at some point. Either because the so-called expiration day is reached, also kown as best-before date – who has not checked how long the groceries will last when planning the meals for the coming days – or because they are just not edible anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency calls food waste “a significant contributor to climate change” due to the usage of resources when processing and transporting the groceries.

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels

There are several factors which have an impact on the percentage of food waste. Looking at the food supply chain, there are different steps right from the primary production going over to manifacturing and processing, distribution and retail up to restaurants and food services until they reach their last step: households. Within the whole process food is thrown away regularly which adds up to the general percentage within a country. The main focus of this article is to examine how the numbers can be reduced, especially in households as well as restaurants and food services.

Households made about 31 % of Ireland’s total food waste in 2020, says the EPA. Considering the financial aspect, the average Irish household threw away 700 € in one year just because of the food which they did not consume anymore. According to the initiative StopFoodWaste it is a significant issue considering the fact that about 820 million people in the world did not have access to food in 2018.

The impact of our consumption in today’s society on the climate is explained in the following episode of Food Wate As A Factor For Climate Change:

Shocking numbers of food waste especially in the US

It is too easy to have a wrong dealing with groceries. One way can be unplanned shopping, just walking along the aisles with a desire to buy anything we see, but actually do not need for the week. Especially when it comes to fresh groceries such as fruits and vegetables, dairy products or already pre-prepared meals which will become depraved quickly. Another major issues is portioning the food. Particularly for single households, it can be a challenge to cook the perfect amount for one person without having any leftovers at the end of the meal. Oftentimes, people tend to not enjoy a meal a second time, which leads to the fresh food being thrown out on a daily basis.

By throwing out food, we should always imagine what it would be like to just take a 50 € bill, destroy it and put it in the garbage bin. There are way better options how to deal with the problem. In order to prevent wastage, here a some easy steps everyone can follow:

  1. Rather go to the store more often and buy fresh products in smaller portions so they do not go bad.
  2. Plan your food schedule for the following days so you only have to buy what you need for cooking.
  3. Make a list before going grocery shopping so you do not end up walking around the aisles without a specific target.
  4. Repurpose leftovers for other meals when you cook on the next day.
  5. Even though the expiration date is reached, do not throw away the food without tasting or smelling whether it is still usable. It is just a date but often groceries last way longer.

StopFoodWaste summarised the impact of food wastage and the importance of prevention in cooperation with the Waterford and Wexford City Councils:

Video by Wexford County Council and Waterford City and County Council on YouTube

In addition to the households, restaurants and food services build a further source of food waste. Almost a quarter of the total waste comes from these providers. The worst fact is that 66 % of the food thrown out would still be edible. The highest waste comes from hotels, where edible meals are thrown away because of all-you-can eat buffets where customers expect to be served freshly food at all times. The range is from vegetables to bread to meat as well as potatoes which are all disposed because they were leftovers and would not be used for another meal.

In order to fight against this sort of wastage, the initiative Too Good To Go was funded. Their mission is to make sure “fresh food gets eaten, not wasted”. Their focus lays especially on restaurants, hotels, cafés and shops where the staff packs “surprise bags” which customers can purchase on the app. The customers do not know what will be in their “magic bag” but they know they can save some food which would be thrown out even though it is still enjoyable. In return, they can purchase the food for a small amount of money and do something good for themselves as well as the environment.

Small things like planning meals before shopping as well as checking food saving platforms can already make a huge difference in the amount of food which is thrown out day to day. Good for everyone’s wallet, even better for the environment!

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