Food waste has become a topic of interest to scientists, consumers, and campaigners in recent years. The emphasis on agriculture to increase food security has been described as a global paradox because one-third of the food produced is wasted. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), global food waste accounts for one-third of all food produced for human consumption, or approximately 1,6 billion tonnes per year.
It is becoming a major concern due to the associated economic, social, and environmental consequences. Food waste is defined by the BFCN (Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition) as waste or food losses caused by industrial processing, distribution, and consumption. Nonprofit organisations and governments have prioritised understanding and eliminating food waste, which leads us to a discussion of the main causes and consequences of food waste.
Let’s take a look at what causes food waste.
Causes of Food Waste
1. Lack of Enough Preparation
One of the main reasons why people throw away food is that they don’t plan ahead enough. People sometimes buy a lot of food without giving enough thought to when and how it will be eaten. People often change their plans for making meals or forget to use them because of their busy work and appointment schedules.
2. Purchase and Preparation of Excessive Food Supplies
Food is often wasted because too much of it is bought or made. If you purchase or make more food than you need, it’s clear that the extra food on your plate will go to waste. In these situations, the food that goes to waste is leftovers and food that was only partially eaten. However, very few of you know that you can use some leftovers as fertilizer in your kitchen garden and grow farm-fresh vegetables which is a better choice than buying them from the store.
3. Food Safety Regulations
The food safety protocol is another big reason why so much food goes to waste. The rules for food safety don’t allow for mistakes in the way food is made in factories or other compromises that lower the quality of the food in the end. Because confusion and mistakes happen when food is made in an industrial setting, any food that doesn’t meet the rules is thrown away.
4. Over-Preparation of Food in Restaurants & Hotels
Most restaurants, hotels, and people in the food service industry prepare and serve an excessive amount of food. Even though the goal is good, especially if there will be a large number of customers and you don’t want to run out of food, over-preparation frequently leads to waste if all of the food isn’t sold.
Some Serious Impacts of Food Waste
1. Biodiversity Loss
Food waste contributes to the loss of species all over the world. Farmers are moving into more and more wild areas to find more fertile land so they can get the most out of their crops. This has caused the loss of different kinds of life. This is because things like slash and burn, cutting down trees, and turning wild areas into farms have destroyed the homes of birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians.
2. Wastage of the 1/3 of the World Fertile Land Areas
According to a study, about one-third of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow food that isn’t eaten. A careful look at the situation shows that 30% of the world’s rich land is being wasted when it could be used for things like environmental research.
3. Blue Water Footprint
The amount of water used to grow food on farms is very large. If 30% of all food produced goes to waste, then more than 30% of the freshwater used to grow and process food goes to waste as well. This adds to the “blue water footprint,” which is the amount of surface and groundwater that is wasted because it is used up.
4. Increased Carbon Footprint
Food that is made and then thrown away is estimated to be the same as 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which adds to global warming. Research has also shown that food waste is the third biggest source of greenhouse gases.
This is because of how much energy is wasted and how much fossil fuels are used to make food, process it, cook it and ship it to different consumer markets around the world. Also, the methane gas that is made when food is thrown away in landfills makes climate change and global warming worse.
The above information shows the different causes of and impact of food waste. Food waste impacts the economy and plays a vital role in climate-changing change. This is the reason today food waste has become the primary concern of the government and many non-profitable organizations.
Small changes in our routine can make significant changes in food waste reduction. Instead of wasting food, one needs to focus on sharing them with others; food sharing platform like Upyogya is the best way to do that. The platform enables its users to buy, sell, or share their surplus amount of food items with others.