Ever wondered what happens to unsold grocery products in the supermarket? Although in the recent years, there has been a growing movement toward giving food excess to charities, there is still annually 2.9 trillion pounds of food waste globally while 800 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. Those numbers become even scarier if we consider the nine billion people on earth by 2050 and their call for an increase in global food production by 70 to 100%. With agriculture responsible for 70% of the planet's freshwater withdrawals, 80% of the world's tropical and subtropical deforestation and 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, food waste recycling appears to be the most viable solution to fight world hunger.
The reasons behind the dramatic amount of edible waste are the lack of storage facilities, insufficient shelf life and refrigeration. Grocers sometimes order too much and throw out excess when facing an unexpected drop in sales or inaccurate forecasts. The major generators of food waste remain market standards. Consumers expect platonically ideal products with no scars or scratches, forcing farmers around the globe to get rid of nearly 46% of their fruit and vegetable production which don't meet export standards because of shape, colour or size. If an apple is not round and shiny, then it is considered of lower quality and most likely ends up in your wheelie bin. This cosmetic discrimination gave birth to a variety of new businesses, focused on recycling food excess. The Californian start-up Imperfect now delivers 'wonky-looking' production to thousands of subscribers, the Danish supermarket WeFood sells expired groceries with damaged packaging while the British Hackney Brewery has started converting surplus bread into beer. It is all about giving misshapen and unwanted products a second chance.
What Can You Do To Help Reduce Waste?
Developed countries are responsible for most of global food waste by displaying too many products on grocery store shelves, serving excessive portions in restaurant and school canteens, ignoring leftovers in home refrigerators and tossing perishables before they have expired. It all adds up to a long list of bad habits but those can be changed in very easy steps. Here are some tips to reduce your waste footprint.
At a store: shop locally at your farmers markets and measure your needs. Buy misshapen products at a discount.
At a restaurant: ask for a doggie bag and bring home leftovers.At home: switch to smaller portion to reduce leftovers. Blend bruised fruits into smoothies. Start selective sorting of your bins and recycle food waste to create natural compost.
Switch to a new waste management company if needed that provides flexible bin collection and green waste disposal.
Sources: Elizabeth Royte, How 'Ugly' Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Solve World Hunger, 2016, National Geographic.