According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of all food produced in the world for human consumption (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) is wasted (1). On its own this statistic is astonishing enough, but partnered up with the fact that close to 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy lifestyle, it becomes flat out unacceptable (2).
While many of us may feel like we do not contribute to this sad reality, the truth is that we all do, and often in ways that we do not even recognize. To help shed light on how serious this issue is, Monaghan County Council, a county in Ireland, put together a video back in 2011 centred around food waste. To help illustrate their concern, all food within the video is replaced by money, a resource that we would all love to avoid wasting so freely. Check it out:
Food Waste = Money Waste
As the video so perfectly demonstrates, we all contribute to the food waste issue globally. If the Irish catering sector alone (back in 2011) was responsible for more than €200 million in annual food waste, I’m scared to see what Canada, the United States, or North America as a whole are contributing to the problem.
Even if we figuratively were all responsible for, let’s say $250 of the issue, would you ever casually throw out or burn $250? Think of how eager so many of us are to cash in on sales at the local grocery store to try to save every penny we can. We should be looking at food, water, energy, and all other resources in this world the same way.
Many of us may feel as if our impact is insignificant given the size of the global issue, but that is not reason enough to justify negligence or to, ultimately, further exacerbate the problem.
What To Do Instead?
The solution is simple. It starts by first only buying what you truly need. Both in grocery stores and when dining out at a restaurant, make choices that match your needs at the time. Rather than let food go bad in the fridge, prioritize it based on expiration date, and if you can’t think of a way to use a particular item in a pinch, remember how creative and powerful a simple Google search can be.
Another option when dining out is to give your remaining food to a person in need. You may not feel as if you’d enjoy eating the leftovers tomorrow, but that same meal packed up right now could help to nourish someone currently incapable of providing for themselves.
The next time you are on the verge of throwing food out, leaving the water running, or not flicking off the lights, think of that decision financially and it may just be the kick in the pants you need to clean up your act, and ultimately help us clean up this world.
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