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In speaking of food waste we often hear about the environmental consequences: waste of land use, energy, water, our natural surroundings, and so on. However, the real cost of food waste is not only paid for by nature, but also by people. This blog dives into the social impact of a malfunctioning food system, in which over 30% of the worldwide production of food is wasted (FAO, 2018) while at the same time one in nine people does not have access to sufficient nutritious food. What is the state of hunger worldwide, versus the state of food waste? Who are the ones most affected? What are the main consequences that they carry? In other words: how can the food system be balanced out?

By becoming more aware of the social consequences of a malfunctioning food system, including food waste, we can strengthen the view on our role within a global food network. It will show that the smallest action that aid the reduction of personal food waste does make a difference in changing the planet’s and people’s health. Accordingly, we look for ways to achieve social as well as environmental justice through the food-related choices we make daily.  

A closer look at the issue

Our food system has developed into a system stimulating continuous growth, in many cases at the expense of life on the planet and livelihoods of people. Some people are more affected by this than others, but ultimately it harms everyone. The current production of food is enough to feed the world population twice (WFP, 2018). At the same time, roughly one in nine people worldwide suffer from hunger (FAO, 2018). It is clear that a profound change in the food system is needed to nourish the 800 million people that suffer from undernourishment in a way that ensures the health of the planet.

The global population is expected to grow with 2.3 billion people by 2050, counting almost ten billion people in total. The food production should increase with 56% to feed all those people. Or: we can reduce our food waste and not have to increase in food production at all.

On the macro-level, plans are made to reach targets to reduce food waste and nudge consumers’ behaviour in the right direction such as streamlining expiration labels and eliminating the use of trays in cafeterias (see box) (Ranghanatan et al, 2018). A big share of the waste, however, still happens on the micro-level: within households. Figure 1 shows where food is wasted on the consumer level the most.

Figures are consumer waste per capita based on data from the 2007 FAO report ‘Global Food Losses and Food waste’. Globally, consumer food waste amounts to roughly 350 Mt which equates about 50 kgs per person or 10% of total food supply (Gustavsson et al (FAO), 2011

In the figure we see that the so-called high-income regions, defined by the World Bank, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have the highest share of wasted food at the consumption level. The USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand produce a striking 110 kgs of food waste per person each year.

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2017
Note: Developed countries are not included in the regional estimates since the prevalence is below 5%.

So: how does that relate to undernourishment? Whilst the number of undernourished people was steadily falling from 2005 – 2014, it has started to increase again in 2014 and has since risen again to 821 million people (Hutt & Gray, 2015).  The following chart shows where undernourishment is prevailing, globally.

The chart shows that the largest part of undernourished people live in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. So the regions where most food is wasted on the consumption level are the ones where hunger is least prevalent. This raises a moral question: how we can justify wasting the food that people in low income countries apparently are in such great need of?

Less food waste, more food security…?

To a large extent, the social impact of food waste relates to environmental consequences. The next figure gives an overview of those environmental costs.

Scialabba, 2014)

A growing global demand will put extra pressure on the agricultural sector. However, the need to produce more food can be offset dramatically by reducing the amount of food that is wasted. This also seems like an ethical thing to do, as societies carry most of the costs of the environmental impacts of food waste. First of all, simply said, human efforts to produce food that does not get a use, is wasted effort. Secondly, the pressure on countries to produce food is increasing as population grows. At the same time regions such as Sub Saharan Africa and the MENA-region also experience increased pressure on their agricultural productivity due to the effects of climate change. Soil is degrading, water resources are getting more scarce and more extreme weather conditions occur. If no serious system change takes place, the risk of a global food crisis is inevitable.

Rural women’s role in food security

The ones who are most affected by the increased pressure on the food system are rural women in low income countries. Women feed least and last in the countries that are faced with hunger, conflict and famine. Therefore, rural women are part of the so-called “left-behind category” (Nyirongo, 2018). Famine and hunger are not related to the fact that there is not enough food for people; it relates back to the access that people have to the food that is available, which is a political issue. Regarding food access, women are last in line. There are three reasons why:

  1. Deep-rooted gender norms. In many countries, the case is that women only eat after the men and kids have had food. Especially when crisis hits, women are the first to sacrifice their food to make sure the family has enough. Women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men do and earn 23% less for paid work (ILO, 2016).
  2. Man-made conflict. Man-made conflict is the number one driver of food insecurity and women are hit hardest by that. As men fight in conflicts, women become the head of the household, yet having little to offer to their families due to a lack of resources. Additionally, women are more subject to abuse, violence and abduction from their homes in times of conflict.
  3. Lack of women’s rights. In many countries, women have less power and less rights compared to men. Even though women make up for more than half the world’s agricultural workers, they do not own any of the financial means, land or tools to farm (WFP, 2018).

Challenges for the role of rural women for development, food production and poverty eradication are further complicated by a changing climate, food price inflation and economic crisis. Women empowerment is essential, not only for the well-being of communities, families and individuals, but also for overall economic productivity. Women are key agents in development as their productivity level is higher than men’s. A study of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated that if women had equal access to resources as men (tools, land, credit etc) agricultural output would rise up to four percent. This might not seem like a lot, but globally, as a high share of low-income countries are active in the primary (agricultural) sector, this definitely adds up. Additionally, if women are given the opportunity to control household income they are more likely to spend it on food, health, clothing and education than men are.

Believe.earth

Improvements in food security can be made by, for instance, improving rural women’s access to agricultural resources and credits and enhancing decision making and ownership within households, communities and at government-level. Gender equality is essential in achieving food and nutrition security and contribute to social and economic growth, both now and in the future.

Conclusion

Globally, a clear pattern is visible: in high-income countries most food is wasted consumption stage of the food supply chain. Low-income countries hardly waste food at that level. These countries that largely rely on their primary sector, of which agriculture holds the largest share, suffer the most from the consequences of food waste because it puts pressure on their capacities. At the same time, they encounter the greatest problems in the agricultural sector such as heat and drought, water scarcity and more extreme weather conditions due to climate change.

The prevailing food crisis is a direct consequence of food loss and food waste practices, of which rural women in particular are affected the most. To solve these issues in the food chain it is important to empower rural women, as not only does it reduce inequality, it also increases agricultural productivity, and investment in the community that women take part in.

But: we shouldn’t forget the responsibility that the consumer has on the other end of the food value chain. System changes can come from here, too. The question isn’t only: how can we increase agricultural productivity to meet the nutritional needs of ten billion people in 2050? But: How can we make better use here and now, of the food that already exists? This is where we should strive for making healthier choices in consumption, both for the people as the planet. Cutting down on meat consumption would be a major step ahead, as this relieves a lot of pressure off the planet’s resources and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Combating food waste is another major one. With that we can influence the lives of those most affected by the malfunctioning food system on the other end. Now, why should we care? Because, as Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

References:

  • Besley, T. Persson, T (2008) Wars and State Capacity. Journal of the European Economic Association DOI: 10.1162/JEEA.2008.6.2-3.522
  • FAO (2010) How to Feed the World in 2050
  • FAO (2011) The state of Food and Agriculture. Women in agriculture, closing the gender gap for development.
  • FAO (2018) The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. Building Climate Resilience for  Food security and Nutrition. http://www.fao.org/3/I9553EN/i9553en.pdf
  • Hutt, R., Gray, A. (2015) What is Hunger? World Economic Forum. Derived from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/what-is-hunger/ at 21/05/2019
  • Kapur, D. (2011) 31 – Agriculture, food and nutrition security. Public Health Nutrition in Developing Countries, Pages 844-878.
  • Kim, K. & Morawski, S. (2012) Quantifying the Impact of Going Trayless in a University Dining Hall. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Volume 7, Issue 4, Pages 482-486.  
  • Lipinski, B. (2013) By the Numbers: Reducing Food Loss and Waste. World Resources Institute. Derived from

https://www.wri.org/blog/2013/06/numbers-reducing-food-loss-and-waste at 22/05/2019

Summer’s here! Bring out the sun beds, dig out that bathing suit, lather yourself in sun screen and just lie under the sun forgetting all about deadlines and alarm clocks. Well… not exactly, but another beautiful season is upon us and with it come different patterns and habits. As I was daydreaming of all the things that I will be able to do in summer like to go out more, hang out on the beach, and reclaim the wonderful afternoon siesta, I started to think of good habits to pack for this summer. I’m going to share a few of them with you here.

At home

Shed those extra pounds

With a new season it’s always great to look into your closet and see which pieces of clothing you haven’t worn. A simple trick is to put the hanger facing outwards (opposite to what you’d normally do) when hanging clothes on the rail and if after the season they are still turned outwards, then you don’t really use is.

Keep it cool

Higher temperatures mean food can spoil quicker. It is therefore crucial to wash and store all food well. Remember to look at our blog on how to store food properly. If you get distracted and find your lovely fruits covered in dark spots, don’t worry about it. Just cut out the good fleshy bits add some lemon juice and voila you have a nice refreshing smoothie OR simply gather those lonesome fruit, slice them razor thin, add some red wine, brandy, brown sugar and lots of ice for a simple summer sangria


© MollieKate

Chop – Drizzle – Eat

Let’s face it, it’s warm, we’re lazy so we might not feel like making a proper meal. Summer is perfect to enjoy a nice crunchy salad with all kinds of vegetables, beans, herbs, grains, nuts, and lentils. Scrape your fridge or cupboards, chop and mix everything and then drizzle with a lovely dressing. You can opt for one of my personal favorites: Tahini dressing, or Fresh mint dressing. Yum!

Out and about

Stay safe

The sun’s warmth is lovely but not its UVA rays. It’s important to protect our skin with face and body sunscreen as well as after-sun. Unfortunately, commercial sunscreens have a huge deteriorating impact on marine life and are linked with the destruction of the coral reef (Danovaro, R. et al, 2008). Fortunately, there are eco and even zero waste options which you can make yourself.

Tidy up!

Clear blue waters, soft green grass or beautiful clear sands. These splendid places offer us moments of peace and a place to have fun with our friends, so why not give something back? While you’re at the beach or park you can  spend 5 minutes cleaning up and even join the social media trend #5minutecleanup. It’s quick and very effective, and just think if all of us got into this habit!


© Giovanni_Tafa

Guilt free Ice cream

It doesn’t matter if it’s  vanilla or a triple chocolate chip cookie madness, ice cream is EVERYTHING in summer. However, this icy creamy goodness comes packaged in plastic that we unwrap and throw out before devouring it. We can easily avoid this by buying ice cream cones so everything is consumed and no more plastic. Yes please!

Going away

Pack it

It’s not just your luggage that needs to be packed, so does your food. Before heading out make sure to freeze what can be frozen i.e. dairy products, some vegetables, all fruits and more. Soft herbs like basil, mint and parsley don’t hold up well frozen, so chop and mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.  Another option is to see what food items can still be eaten and give them away to a friend or neighbour who will be more than happy to receive them!

Be prepared!

– The city;

A mason jar and a tea towel go a long way. These two items can save you a lot of unnecessary waste. The mason jar is perfect to keep beverages, ice cream scoops, and small snacks, while the tea towel is great to hold bread, croissants, fruits, or lay out for a mini picnic. These take minimal space and can be carried around the city in your favorite tote bag ♡

– Camping;

This requires a bit more preparation. The basic items would be a good water jug which keeps your drinks chilled or hot, as needed. Then reusable cutlery and a compostable plate (made from bamboo or cornstarch; I know incredible!). Finally, your toiletry kit; bamboo toothbrush & holder, toothpaste tablets, deodorant, bug spray, moisturizer, and sunscreen which can all be DIYed.


© GoingZeroWasteBlog

© GoingZeroWasteBlog

Summer is all about having fun, and that’s what our journey to reduce food waste should be about. It’s all about discovering alternatives and being creative with what you have. When I say you it is not just one individual but ALL of you who are reflecting on your personal habits but also the collective potential to make a positive change.

Who’s a self sufficient responsible zero waster? You are!

Sources

Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections ( Danovaro, R. et al, 2008)

Going zero waste

Cookie and Kate recipes

Around the Wei river, trees and shrubs dot the area and grass stretches over kilometres of land cut by dramatic canyons. This green stretch of land in central China covers the Shaanxi province and extends to inner Mongolia is known as the Loess Plateau (Ahlquist, n.d.). Here 20 million people have lived and grown their food like the Sichuan pepper, to sustain themselves for centuries. These highly fertile soils have been significant in China’s history and played a crucial part in the survival and wellbeing of its civilisation.

People living here are dependent on these rich soils. Farmers are very much attuned with the land with its properties and needs, agriculture here is planned. Terracing has provided a way to control soil erosion and the resultant loss of land. Land which is sloped into a series of successive planes provides a way to control sediment flow which then flowed into downstream (TheWorldBank, 2007).  Also, herders cannot leave their herds to wander freely around grasslands and graze wherever and as much as the animals would like. Other measures include sustainable water management, increased vegetation cover, and this was all reinforced with policy.

This is what land degradation looks like.

This however has not always been the case, actually it was quite different before 1994. Planned sustainable agriculture was an outcome of WWF’s project entitled the ‘Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation project’ (TheWorldBank, 2007). Its aim was to attain sustainable living among residents by revisiting agricultural practices in the area. Farming here was exhaustive, acres of trees were cleared to make space for agricultural land, crops were planted on steep sides of the valley, grasslands were exhausted by herds of goats, and most importantly people did not own the land but they could just farm it (Liu, 2005). These practices went on for centuries while people did not really think ahead, and so the land started to turn to sand and wild plants and animals disappeared.  People were left without a source of food or income causing poverty within the region.

Land degradation refers to the diminished value of land from disturbances, either caused by natural phenomenon or human activity. These changes or disturbances negatively impact the ability of land to function as part of the ecosystem and hinder its ecosystem services, i.e. the absorption, storing, and recycling of water, energy and nutrients (FAO, 2013). Such natural phenomenon as extreme weather, drought, or salinization from coastal surgance can cause for land to dry up and erode. However, the causes of land degradation are mainly anthropogenic and agriculture related. The increasing and combined pressures of our modern-day agriculture and livestock production include; overcultivation, overgrazing, forest conversion, deforestation, pollution and urbanization (FAO, 2014).

  • Globally the total amount of food wastage in 2007 occupied almost 1.4 billion hectares (this is significantly larger than the size of Canada), equal to about 28 % of the world’s agricultural land area.
  • While the major contributors to land occupation of food wastage are meat and milk, with 78%of the total surface.

The way we produce and consume food requires us to slash acres of trees, destroying natural habitats, displacing numerous species, and in so doing jeopardizing biodiversity. This conversion from natural vegetation to agricultural land tends to go beyond the soil’s natural ability to recover. The industrial agricultural method intensively grows a single crop within a region, this is known as Monoculture. This drastic shift depletes the nutrients from the soil which is normally used to the richness of biodiversity. Additionally, the improper use of fertilizers, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus contaminate and pollute the soils making it more acidic and less fertile.

When it comes to live stock, this requires huge amounts of land, as a place to keep the animals but also vast agricultural land to grow their feed crops i.e. alfalfa (FAO, 2013). Besides land occupation, livestock production is also responsible for over grazing, where pastures are exposed to constant intensive grazing over long periods of time.

It’s not just the way that we produce our food, it’s also the rate. The land’s resources are consumed much faster than they can replenish and this fails to ensure the long-term sustainability of land. Which can eventually lead to desertification, meaning that a piece of land dries out, losing its water sources and wildlife and becomes a desert. (Fertile Crescent)

All these negative implications of the present food supply chain, and faults in the industrial agriculture methods illustrate the repercussions which the natural environment is subject to. However, these repercussions extend to our communities and economies.

On the environment

Soil is also an excellent source of water, green water that is. This was already highlighted in a previous blog post on the implications of food waste on our water sources. Poor agricultural practices and poor land management also leads to the contamination of waterways and groundwater (FAO, 2013). This mostly happens because of the irrigation method that is used, the pesticides which are either discharged into freshwater creating deposits in river banks or leak into groundwater.

On our communities

The constant and increasing pressures on land to extract as much food as possible is actually backfiring. Nutrient less soil produces poor quality crops which negatively impacts our health. Loss of land means that there is less space to grow food, which is a huge issue for a growing population already dealing with food insecurity. It also means loss of livelihood for those who are dependent on this land, farmers risk their income or even their own meals and fail to provide for their families. Once soil is degraded it turns into sand and dust which is swept away by the wind, increasing particles in the air and creating greater respiratory problems for us all (FAO, 2013).   

When we then realise that one third of all the food produced for human consumption is then being wasted, this continues to make less and less sense.

Once we take a few steps into the journey food makes to get to us, we start to gather all the ‘invisible’ resources that are necessary. When talking about food waste, we can not only talk about the food that is wasted, though this is an excellent starting point. We have to look at where this food comes from, who is producing it and why these resources and long hours of labour than end up in landfills decomposing. However, very much like in the Loess Plateau there is potential. Here, land was allowed to regenerate resulting in vegetative cover increase by 17 up to 34%, crop production was more stable ensuring a secure food supply for the inhabitants (Liu, 2005).  By protecting their natural resources 2.5 million people were lifted out of poverty as employment opportunities increased and they could provide for themselves once again.0

Now, this may seem like a story of a distant place that has nothing to do with us but we know that our food is global, and so is our food waste. Borders and distances in kilometres mean nothing to nature and our eco system’s biodiversity. We’re all in this together (un)fortunately. In our local efforts to reuse food, reduce food waste, and recycle what’s left we are actually contributing to a much larger effort.

Source

Ahlquist, M. (n.d.).

FAO. (2013)

FAO. (2014).

Liu, J. D. (2005)

TheWorldBank. (2007)

Every single thing which you are holding, sitting on or nibbling is water. In the same way as plants and produce need water to grow, the computer you are typing on required liters of water during its manufacturing. The same goes for the clothes that you are wearing or the soaps and detergents that you use at home. We might not think of the water that is used in these products because we don’t see it bottled or coming out of our taps, but we are still consuming it. Our use of water resources directly impacts fresh water systems which is all the lakes and ponds, rivers, streams, springs, bogs, and wetlands

How much are we consuming?

Well, a lot actually given that from all the water on earth, only 3% is fresh water of which only 1% is readily available for our consumption (FAO, 2013). The Water footprint network (WFN) has estimated the average global consumption to be 1,240 m3 per year per person, with variations across regions and countries (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011). Countries like Peru, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo use on average 600 to 800 m3 of fresh water per year per person. While countries like the USA and Russia have a much higher average of 2,100 to 2,500 m3 per year per person.


© The Water Footprint Network

In 2002 Arjen Y. Hoekstra (a water management professor at the University of Twente) presented the concept of The Water Footprint. This serves as a tool that tells us how much water is required to produce the goods and the services that we consume, be it food, clothing, or the running of a multinational company. It quantifies the impact of humans’ consumption patterns on freshwater system by looking at the full production process from the supply chain to the end user. This means that is looks at the water that is used directly and indirectly in the process. In so doing, making government, companies, and individuals are accountable for their water use (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011).

What is wrong with a large water footprint?

Many people have the misconception that water’s status of renewability means that it is endless source. A renewable resource is not endless; rather it means that the natural rain cycle replenishes the resource. Water is continually moving throughout the planet, with each climate receiving its own kind and volume of precipitation so its availability in regions varies. If a community overuses or pollutes its water source, the source can temporarily run out. However through conservation efforts water resources can eventually be restored.

In the Netherlands the total water footprint is 23,000 million m3 per year meaning that every individual living in the Netherlands consumes 4,000 litres of water per day. However only 5% of this is internal, while the other 95% is external (Ibid). Water use in a globalised world means that products are not always consumed in their country of origin, water consumption is externalised to the countries producing the goods and services. This however does not mean that the consuming countries are not accountable for their consumption.

Rather, global water consumption is tracked at river basin and aquifer level, which is particularly useful to understand the implications of water consumption or pollution within that region. It especially matters in regions prone to water scarcity in countries like Chile, Malta or Kuwait, as further extraction or pollution of their water resources can be detrimental to their national water resources and global water systems.

The water food print is made up of three components; blue water, green water, and grey water.


© The Water Footprint network

So, by knowing how much and where, the water footprint informs us on how better manage our use of fresh water resources.

Why does this matter?

Let’s imagine that all the freshwater available to us for consumption was a 1 litre bottle. This one bottle of water needs to serve all freshwater ecosystems with their species, as well as our growing industries and communities. Global estimates suggest that of this single source of freshwater 70% goes to growing our food, mainly for irrigation in agriculture (FAO, 2014).

Water use in food production varies from crop irrigation to food processing i.e. cleaning, sanitizing, peeling, cooling. It is essential therefore for our food supply chain to have a healthy constant source of fresh water to grow produce and feed animals. Yet, one-third of food produced for human consumption is thrown out (FAO, 2014).

Some of the most commonly wasted food are bread, milk, and apples.

Using the Water Footprint product gallery, we can now look at the estimated water costs of these products.

Bread

The global average water footprint of wheat is 1827 litres per kg

Milk

The global average water footprint of milk is 1020 litres per kg.

Apple

On average, one apple costs 125 litres of water.

Meat

The global average water footprint of beef is 15400 litres per kg.

The Water footprint shows us that it is not just the valuable food being wasted but also such finite resources as water. FAO (2013) estimates that globally, the blue water footprint i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources of food wastage is about 250 km3. While conservative estimates of water loss caused by discarded food indicate that about half of the water withdrawn for irrigation is lost. Once food is dumped, it sits landfills which leads to harmful soluble substances (via leachates and runoff) to seep into the ground. This pollutes waterways and groundwater which negatively impact both land and aquatic biodiversity  (Hoekstra. Y, A et al., 2011).

What can we do to shrink our Water footprint?

There are many positive contributions we can make.

We can start off by calculating our personal water footprint. This will give us a clearer idea of how much water our lifestyle requires and how sustainable this is. Once we know this we can start making more conscious decisions about our dietary choices and consumption habits.

Of course, this does not fall on us individuals. It is also important to voice our concern and let governmental representatives know that we care about water and want it to be used and managed in a sustainable way across the globe. We can do this by electing representatives with a sound water policy and being an active global water citizen.

In that way governments can set up coherent policies which look at multiple industries, and work to ensure sustainable production of produce and services from importing countries. Similarly, industries need to implement resource efficiency in their production process and ensure transparency in their water use.

Happily, this shows how by learning to reuse food, reducing our food waste, and recycling food scraps we’d also be making a contribution to shrinking our water footpring. By fighting food waste we’re also alleviating pressure from water sources and assuring the sustainability of fresh water systems. In our mission to fight food waste we’d;

  • Reduce blue water consumption for irrigation in agriculture
  • Require less blue water for food processing
  • Downsize the amount of food waste in landfills and the resulting leachates and run off
  • Reduce the possibility of contamination of waterways and groundwater 

Looks like a win- win!

Sources

FAO. (2013). Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report. FAO.

FAO. (2014). Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report. FAO.

Fao. (2014). Mitigation of societal costs and benefits of food waste. Fao.

FAO. (2014). The Water-Energy-Food Nexus; A new approach in support of food security and sustainable agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Hoekstra, A. Y., Chapagain, A. K., Aldaya, M. M., & Mekonnen, M. M. (2011). The Water Footprint Assessment Manual; Setting the global standard. London: EarthScan.

There is nothing quite like opening a fully stocked and perfectly organized squeaky clean fridge. It becomes a well-chilled sanctuary for our precious food and delectable offerings to our late-night cravings. Yet, this sanctuary at times becomes a cemetery where unfortunately sometimes our food rots. It’s either because it’s forgotten in some part of the fridge, it’s not stored well, it sits in an unclean space, or because of poor grocery planning. However there are things you can do to avoid this and turn your fridge into a tool to avoid and reduce of food waste at home. Here are some tips.

Temperature

Keep it cool.

Set your refrigerator between 1°C to 5 °C. If it’s any warmer, you run the risk of growing harmful bacteria but if it’s any colder some of your food may begin to freeze.

Organising your fridge

Top shelf; Here temperatures are constant so it’s best to keep drinks. Also, this is the first part of the fridge that you’ll look at, so it’s a good idea to keep leftovers stored in clear containers.  

Middle shelves; Keep dairy here. Your milk, yogurts, cheese, and eggs should go here. Also, milk should be put at the back of the shelf since this is the coldest bit.

Bottom shelf; This is the coldest shelf, which makes it an ideal place to store raw ingredients. Things like raw meat and fish should be kept here in tight packaging to avoid dripping and cross-contamination.

Drawer; These tend to retain some moisture which is good for produce. You can place your fruits and vegetables here. If you have multiple drawers, use them to separate ethylene producing fruits and vegetables like apples and avocados, from sensitive ones to avoid quick spoilage.

Door; Even though most refrigerator models come with beverage and egg shelves on their door, this is not a good place to keep them. This part of the fridge is prone to temperature fluctuations and is actually the warmest part of the fridge, so avoid storing highly perishable foods. Instead keep your condiments and well-preserved foods here.

Top of the fridge; Usually this part is quite warm so avoid storing any food here. Instead you can keep some small kitchen appliances and utensils, or just your pile of cookbooks.

© Appliance Service Station Inc.

Storing Principles

FIFO –  First In, First out; Always move the food that is already there, and it closest to expiration date to the front of the shelves. That way you have a better visualisation of what you need to consume first and you’ll make have space in the back for the new groceries. This also helps to avoid finding a stray yoghurt from 3 months ago in the back of the shelf.

Markers. Set. Go; It’s very likely that you are not the only one using the fridge so labelling the shelves into sections can be a helpful way to keep the fridge organised. Food should also be labelled to avoid the ‘What is this, and when did I make it?’, sure a quick sniff can be suggestive of the answer but better to play it safe and just label it.

Air it out; Air needs to circulate in your fridge to avoid parts of the fridge from becoming too warm or too cold. When you over stock your fridge there isn’t enough air circulation and this can create warm or cold pockets causing food to spoil quicker.

Eat-me first!; This is really handy. Just take any organizing box and stick a post-it saying ‘Eat me first!’ then place all the food which is going to perish soon and needs to be eaten. This will convince everyone in the house to reach for these items before trying anything else.

Keep it together; Food keeps for longer when it’s still whole. Meat, fruit, and veggies expire quickly when they have been chopped, sliced and diced. Keep your foods whole until you’re ready to consume them.

Plastic – not – fantastic; The unfortunate trend of plastic wrapped produce is bad for MULTIPLE reasons, one of these being that food actually spoils quicker. Instead use glass containers, paper bags and,  mason jars or a damp tea towel for fresh herbs and leafy vegetables.

Tidy up; In order to keep food good for as long as possible, it’s important that it stays in a clean space. So keep your fridge tidy, clean up any spills and make sure to wash the insides every month.

© Gardner’s Supply Company

While we’ve been talking about what goes in to the fridge, it’s equally important to talk about what doesn’t. This may be to avoid altering the texture or flavour of the food, or even it going bad. It can also be to simply save space and keep a tidy ventilated fridge.

  • Foods you shouldn’t refrigerate; potatoes, onions, garlic, honey, tomatoes
  • Foods that can but don’t need to refrigerated; peanut butter, oils, apples, butter
  • Food you must refrigerate; milk, cheese, eggs, meat

What other tips do you follow to keep your fridge in check and avoid wasting food?

World Disco Soup Day 2019

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor fill bellies not bins

Code Orange! © Pebble Magazine

The 27th of April is the day that for 364 days a year, the Dutch are patiently waiting for: Kingsday. On this day the streets turn orange, people awake from their hibernation, crawl out of their caves, pet the dust off of their summer jackets and hit the streets where orange flags, beers, music and flea markets await.

Taste Before You Waste will not let this day go by unnoticed. We will join forces with the Slow Food Youth Network, Café de Ceuvel, Food Circle, Sapient Social & Environmental Enterprises, Guerilla Kitchen Amsterdam and Healthy and Affordable and turn Kingsday into World Disco Soup Day.

What?

World Disco Soup Day started seven years ago in Berlin as a protest soup where 8000 people were given sous from rescued products (Slow Food, n.d.). The protest soups soon began to spread to ask attention for a pressing problem: our failing food system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, over one-third of all the global production of food for human consumption is wasted (around 1.3 billion tons annually) while at the same time, 840 million people suffer from hunger, globally (FAO, 2015). Not only does the actual food go to waste, also think of all the energy, land, water, seeds and labour that is lost!

 

 

The idea of organizing a protest soup was soon picked up by the Slow Food Youth Network in Brazil. The Slow Food Youth Network, a non-profit organisation that fights for a more fair and sustainable food system, took on the concept and organized a national Disco Soup Day. The snowball effect that followed caused the World Disco Soup Day to grow out to be one of the biggest internationally organized events that fight food waste and in the extension of that; impacts of climate change.

All over the world, youth addresses the problem of food waste by collecting food that would be wasted but was still perfectly fine to use. Delicious soups were created from the rescued food, and a disco element was added. Because why not celebrate that wasted food actually tastes great, while collectively contributing to the battle against food waste?

 

 

World Disco Soup Day 27th April, 2019

This Kingsday-edition, the collective of organisations that were listed above will dance to the music of DJ Stefnitz, listen to the jokes of MC Benji B and taste the soups made by you, the welcome guests! Join the event and eat the soups, all for free.

To prepare for our kingsday-edition of World Disco Soup Day we need your help and ask you to take part in our #soupchallenge. Share one of your favorite soup recipes and tag #verspillingsvrij #wdsd19 #sfyn #samentegenvoedselverspilling #votewithyourfork #fillbelliesnotbins @sfynamsterdam @slowfoodyouthnetwork @deceuvel @tbyw.  

We recommend you to use as many rescued vegetables as possible and your soup might be the inspiration for the soup of the day at World Disco Soup Day. So: post your recipe, post a photo of the dish and insert the tags and if your soup is chosen, it will be made and served to all the party people at the Ceuvel!  

 

We are super excited for this day full of great, rescued food and dancing. Join use and let’s get wasted!

© Nancy Standlee

Today was a good day. I ate the leftovers from yesterday’s pie, yum! still delicious! I didn’t throw out or waste any food, well only the orange peels from this morning’s breakfast. So, for today my food waste CO2 emissions are low, so tonight I’ll have sweet waste free dreams! XoX

Let me explain. A couple of weeks back, while I was researching on food waste related topics, I came across ‘The Food Waste Calculator for households’ (FAO, 2013). This initiative is part of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) which usually takes place in the last week of November each year. Now, I didn’t really want to wait eight months to write about this, so I decided to go ahead and fill my food waste diary for seven days.

It turned out to be a pretty simple thing to do. I downloaded the excel file from the EWWR website, I read though the instructions and filled in my details. After that I started to keep track of my food waste. All I needed was a balance to weigh the food waste, and a piece of paper to list the weight daily. I would then enter the information in the excel file under the appropriate cell, either leftovers or spoiled food. This would add up to my weekly food waste (mine came to 2.2 Kg), and then converted in its CO2 equivalent. It also compared me my CO2 equivalent of my food waste per year with the climate compatible annual emissions budget per person.

These are my results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a bit silly but I was a little annoyed at the beginning that the numbers were so low, I really wanted to have a bigger discovery at the end of the week-long experiment. It turns out I’m pretty good at avoiding waste (for that one particular week), most of the food waste was unavoidable i.e. fruit and vegetable peels. There was only one sad savoy cabbage promised for delicious vegan kimchi that went bad before I could even try, oh well!

This was a truly uncomplicated way to become more aware of household food waste at the most localised personal level. However, the issue of food waste is a global one which extends beyond the individual and involves multiple agents; governments, businesses, and producers. Globally it is estimated that a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted through production process and after consumption (FAO,2013). The quantification of this loss and waste is essential to adequately reduce and avoid wastage of food as well as the waste of natural resources in production.

In 2013, FAO coined the term ‘Food Wastage Footprint’ in order to calculate the environmental and social costs associated with natural resource loss and environmental degradation (FAO, 2013). In this case, food wastage specifically refers to any food lost by deterioration or discard, thus the term “wastage” encompasses both food loss and food waste.

 

“The Food Wastage Footprint (FWF) project… calculates the impact of food wastage on natural resources such as water, land and biodiversity. This includes the natural resources used across the food chain, from growing to distributing food which is finally not eaten, the impact of food wastage disposal on natural resources, and the impact of GHG emissions from food wastage on the atmosphere.”  –  (FAO, Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report, 2013)

 

Once the parallels between landfills overflowing with edible food, and malnourished communities on separate parts of the globe were drawn, the issue of food wastage was impossible to ignore (FAO, 2013). Studies were carried out, which showed us that one-third of all food produced for human consumption if wasted, and this is costing 1 trillion USD out of our pockets each year. (FAO, 2014) Still, these high figures overlook the total cost of food wastage; economic, social and environmental. That is where The Food Wastage Footprint comes in.

KNOW.

The Food Wastage Footprint provides a more complete and accurate understanding of the food supply chain. As it unveils hidden environmental and social costs and provides a clear illustration of any distortions within the global food system (FAO, 2014). It also heightens and improves our knowledge of the implications of our food production and consumption patterns.

ENUMERATE.

The Food Wastage Footprint does this by monetizing unpriced natural resources such as land, water, air, ecosystems, and biodiversity, along with the related ecosystem services. Usually natural resources are prey to the Tragedy of the commons’, a concept which Willian Foster Lloyd wrote about back in 1833, it loosely states that resources which are freely accessible are depleted through self-interest over-consumption for short-term gain (Vugt, 2009). By going beyond market pricing, the Food Wastage Footprint incorporates societal welfare costs related to the loss of natural resources.

MITIGATE.

The Food Wastage Footprint therefore serves as a powerful tool for effective mitigation of global food waste. It equips us with a thorough understanding of food wastage at different levels (global, national, local), and the role of various agents (producers & consumers). This is necessary as only by knowing exactly what, where, and how can we successfully reduce food waste and design targeted measures (Fao, 2013).

 

In its study FAO provides calculations for prominent social and environmental costs of food wastage, these are also broken down by geographical region, commodity (cereals, meat, fruit, & vegetables), and phases of the global food supply chain (FAO, 2014). Its findings highlight that in addition to the USD 1 trillion of economic costs per year, environmental costs reach around USD 700 billion and social costs amount to USD 900 billion.

 

 

Some of the most notable findings include;

  • 3.5 Gt CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the social cost of carbon, these are estimated to cause USD 394 billion of damages per year.
  • Increased water scarcity, particularly for dry regions and seasons. Globally, this is estimated to cost USD 164 billion per year.
  • Soil erosion due to water is estimated to cost USD 35 billion per year through nutrient loss, lower yields, biological losses and off-site damages. The cost of wind erosion may be of a similar magnitude.
  • Risks to biodiversity including the impacts of pesticide use, nitrate and phosphorus eutrophication, pollinator losses and fisheries overexploitation are estimated to cost USD 32 billion per year.
  • Increased risk of conflict due to soil erosion, estimated to cost USD 396 billion per year.
  • Loss of livelihoods due to soil erosion, estimated to cost USD 333 billion per year.
  • Adverse health effects due to pesticide exposure, estimated to cost USD 153 billion per year.

Source:  FAO, Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report, 2014

 

 Key global environmental impacts of food wastage by regions

[Values in million tonnes wastage, millions ha land occupation, million tonnes GHG emissions, and km3 water use, all on the same axis.]

Source: FAO, Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report, 2014

 

The Food Wastage Footprint highlights the sheer magnitude of the global food waste problem through valuing our ecosystems, the commons and all related invaluable services they provide. This is not an attempt to put a price tag on nature but rather these calculations allow prioritising actions and defining opportunities for various actor’s contribution to resolving this global challenge (FAO,2013) . However we may choose to look at it, reducing food wastage makes sense economically, environmentally and socially. It also raises the question that, with increasing world population, higher standards of living and limited natural resources, are the costs of food wastage something we can really afford?

 

P.S. For our readers, we encourage you to participate and fill in YOUR food waste diary and feel free to let us know how it went!

Sources

FAO. (2013). Food wastage footprint Impact on natural resources Summary report.

Fao. (2013). Toolkit reducing the food wastage footprint. 

FAO. (2014). Food wastage footprint Full-cost accounting Final Report. 

Fao. (2014). Mitigation of societal costs and benefits of food waste.

Vugt, M. V. (2009). Averting the Tragedy of the Commons

TBYW at the marches

Leading up to this weekend, with The Women’s March on Saturday, and The Climate March on Sunday, TBYW members have been active organising a number of informative events. On the 18th of February our Cultural Monday dinner welcomed a special guest from The Women’s March organisation for a talk on this year’s theme, and the link between feminism and environmentalism. Following that, a banner making event was held on the 26th of February were people got together armed with paint, paper, and plenty of slogans, such as Don’t be a fossil fool, or The Future is Feminist.

On the 9th of March, TBYW members join The Women’s march at Dam square decked out in aprons and banners. The following day, 10th of March TBYW members and all those who wish to join, will gather at Dokhuis Galerie and then at 12:30 start walking together towards The Climate March at Dam square. 

The call for social change, and the betterment in individuals’ and communities’ living conditions, is what drew TBYW to participate in these marches. Our mission to address and reduce food waste is a single expression of the various areas which require social change. As an organisation we believe in grassroots actions are a definitive means for structural change, which both of these demonstrations embody. Awareness of pressing social and environmental issues are part of our core values, so what better way to raise awareness than to take to the streets?

The Women’s March

We at TBYW will be participating in The Women’s March because of the shared belief that a more equitable and just world is possible, and we have a role in making it so. This year’s march focuses on Intersectionality, (keep reading for more on this theory) which goes beyond gender and holds as one of its core principles, environmental justice. By this it is meant, that each and every individual retains the right to clean water and air, and access to and enjoyment of public lands. Our environment and climate must be protected, and natural resources cannot be exploited for corporate gain or greed – especially at the risk of public safety and health.

©Nynke Vissia

A brief history of the Women’s March;

The Women’s March originated in the United States back in 2017, on the 21st of January, between 3,267,134 and 5,246,670 people attended the largest ever single-day protest in the U.S. The aim of this march was to advocate for policies and legislation regarding human rights in general and other specific issues, relating to gender, health care, reproductive rights, racial equality, LGBTQIA rights, workers’ rights, immigration, environmental justice and freedom of creed. As one of the organiser states “It’s about basic equality for all” (Felsenthal, 2017). This march developed into a global movement, and on the same year over seven million people participated in sister marches worldwide.

This 9th of March, The Women’s March is being held here in Amsterdam. People are invited to gather at Dam square at 12:30 p.m. and then proceed to peacefully march towards Museumplein where the march will conclude at 15:00. This year’s focus is on Intersectionality within the movement, the march aims to protest multiple forms of inequalities which individuals experience based on their particular identities.

©Salmon Design

Intersectionality is a theory which states that individuals experience layered discrimination particular to the multiple minority stratifications they fall under, such as; class, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, and ability. Meaning that for example, the experience of sexism for a young queer woman are different from that of an elder cis-woman, and these differences matter. Intersectionality provides a broader spectrum with which to understand and analyse the multiple forms of oppression, which is essential in addressing it. The term intersectionality was first used in a feminist theory context by theorist Kimberle Crenshaw in her paper “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics” (1989). Though the idea of interlocking discrimination had been discussed in previous feminist work, such as the Grimke sisters (Davis, 1983).

The feminist movement is made up of individuals who fall under multiple identify factors; queer women, black women, poor women, this is to say that individuals are not hyphenated identities but a totality of their plurality (Lorde, 1982). If the movement were to only focus on the gender issue it would erase the layered discrimination they experience. For a social movement to truly emancipate their people it needs to recognise that all struggles are inseparable (Davis, 1983).  Therefore, Intersectionality proposes a space within movements, where individuals belonging to multiple minority stratifications can articulate their story and theorize their experience and analysis of oppression (Crenshaw, 1989).

 

The Climate March

The atmospheric changes that we are presently experiencing are a result of neglect and misuse of our natural environment, the issue of food waste provides a clear example of this. The production of food contributes to 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet half of the food we produce is thrown out. Besides GHGs, this accounts for the loss of water, energy, and land resources which would have been required for production.  Finally, the decomposing food emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is twenty-one times more potent than carbon dioxide. Considering that climate change will only worsen food access and security, we are responsible for our future generations to act now and hold our leaders accountable for their inaction. Therefore,TBYW only saw it fit to attend the Klimaatmars to bind forces and contribute towards a wider movement towards food security and climate justice. 

On Sunday the 10th of March, the streets of Amsterdam will be filled with environmentalist, nature-lovers, climate activists and all those demanding a more sustainable future. People are to gather on Dam square at 1 p.m. and proceed to walk towards Museumplein where the march will wrap up at 16:00.  This demonstration is an initiative of a collection of local environmental organisations including; Milieudefensie together with FNV, Greenpeace, DeGoedeZaak , Woonbond and Oxfam Novib, calling for immediate climate action from authorities. The march itself is a result of multiple other actions, such as rallies around the Netherlands, information sessions and discussions on fair climate policy, organizing meetups to recruit volunteers, distribute local posters and flyers, even organising group travel to Sunday’s march.

©Eino Sierpe

©Nel Berens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On their event page, the organisers state that the aim of The Climate March is a fair climate policy.  This is meant as a wake-up call to authorities and representatives to step up their responsibilities in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and for big polluters to be held accountable for pollution. Climate change has been debated on a global level for decades, yet reaction from governments has sadly, not matched the urgency of the matter. Now we are left with much less time and a much bigger issue to face.The march wants to show that people are watching their governments and are unimpressed with their insufficient action to address climate change deliberately.A change in the present way of addressing climate change is called for, with more concrete agreements need, creation of green jobs, and the implementation of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP).

OECD (1997) defines the Polluter Pays Principle as “… the polluter should bear the cost of measures to reduce pollution according to the extent of either the damage done to society or the exceeding of an acceptable level (standard) of pollution.

© EESC glossaries

The principle assumes that an acceptable state of the environment must be maintained, if polluters degrade this state, the victims of pollution are entitled for financial compensation. Impacts of climate change tend to be felt especially by the weakest and most vulnerable, who often have contributed least to changing the global atmosphere. This compensation is then used to reverse the degradation and re-establish an acceptable state of the environment. When polluters, knowingly or unknowingly cause irreversible environmental degradation they bear full responsibility of the impact. In exchanging environmental degradation into financial costs, polluters are bound to internalize environmental costs in their activities. An example is for greenhouse gas emissions to be priced at such a level to avoid dangerous climate change(Dellink R., 2009).

Seeing the connections

The individual issues of food waste, climate justice, and feminist intersectionality, collectively concern the sustainability and equity of our society. We have to come to the realisation that we do not live in a single- issue society. Through our experiences we are not subjected to one issue exclusive of all other, rather we go through life experiencing or witnessing different struggles simultaneously. In broadening our perspective and identifying the interlinkages between environmental, social, and gender issue, we increase opportunities for understanding, and finding alternative solutions.

As a foundation TBYW believes that marching is an important medium to create positive change regarding social and environmental justice. Food is only an accessible entry point (everyone consumes food) for a wider discussion about sustainability and social change. While TBYW strives for empowerment of the people to consume consciously and treat each other equally we also seek to pressure authorities to support local initiatives and prioritise food and gender equality in a structural manner. Therefore we are involved in broader social issues and supportive towards a wider social justice movement. Ultimately the more we actively include everyone in the creation of alternatives, the more successful will the outcome of a sustainable and equitable future, be.

Sources

Adewunmi, B. (2014)

Crenshaw, K. (1989)

Davis, A. Y. (1983)

Dellink Rob, d. E. (2009)

Felsenthal, J. (2017) 

Lorde, A. (1982)

Vercillo, S. (2016)

Kimberlé Crenshaw – On Intersectionality  – keynote – WOW 2016

Our volunteers serving delicious meals from rescued food at the National Selection Conference © Anna von Flüe

Earlier this month on a Saturday morning, our events coordinator along with our zealous volunteers were busy chopping and cooking rescued food to feed the 150 attendees of the National Selection Conference. The event was organised here in Amsterdam by the European Youth Parliament the Netherlands, together with the United Nations Environmental Programme.

The National Selection Conference brings together 100 Dutch and international delegates who would have passed through the four preliminary rounds open for high school students all over the Netherlands.  This 19th edition of the conference ‘Bending without breaking: A modern union in a changing Europe’ brought together youths to discuss and debate the challenges the European Union is facing within the broader topics of sustainability, climate change and other related environmental issues. The lead event organiser from the European Youth Parliament the Netherlands explained the intentions as ‘Aiming to provide a platform whereby youth can discuss the changes needed in the movement towards a more sustainable future for Europe’. The conference highlights the importance of involving young people in political processes and decision making in order to create active and critical citizens.

The 19th edition of the National Selection Conference, Amsterdam © European Youth Parliament the Netherlands

 

How do TBYW and the National Selection conference come together? 

Cooking rescued food © Anna von Flüe

TBYW gets plenty of catering requests, however as an organisation we always make sure that the aim of the event and purpose of those organising it align with our mission. Since the programme at the National Selection Conference focused on activating young people towards sustainability and adaptability, we sought to support and to take the opportunity to introduce people to our mission. As an organisation the European Youth Parliament Netherlands (EYP) wanted to put into practice that which it preaches, and send a message that tackling global issues can be done through simple measures, as cooperating with local initiatives.

“ … a great part of it comes through the values we share: the idea that young people should take responsibility to make the change they want to see in the world; the sustainable interaction with our neighbourhood, the environment and our food; and the idea that you can make a change and the realisation that, if you aren’t afraid to reach out to those around you, you will find more people willing to support your cause than you had originally expected.

  – Thanos Theofanakis, Head  Organiser of the National Selection Conference, European Youth Parliament

How did TBYW get ready for the catering?

TBYW volunteers © Anna von Flüe

The  same format as for our weekly dinners was followed, but with the challenge of preparing enough food for almost double the amount of people. Our volunteers collected unwanted food from grocery shops and catering companies, filled the bakfiets and rode towards our kitchen. There they met the volunteers where they proceeded to cook and  prepare the food. A second group of volunteers then helped to set up and serve the food at the location.

The most essential preparation was ensuring we had enough volunteers. Without them it would nothave been possible, and I was so impressed by how dedicated and helpful everyone was. They really made it possible – and fun!” – TBYW events coordinator, Jenny

The response from the conference attendees was truly positive as many people asked questions about the organisation and complimented the food. Everyone was open minded about trying ‘waste’ food, and it inspired them to consider how they consume food more carefully.

What is the extent of food waste in the food service sector?

Presently, the food service sector is responsible for 14% of the total amount of food waste within the EU 27, at an average of 25kg per capita. Here the food service sector refers to the; “production sector involved in the preparation of ready-to-eat food for sale to individuals and communities; includes catering and restauration activities in the hospitality industry, schools, hospitals and businesses (European Commission, 2010).” This sector is the third largest food waste source in the EU 27, after households (42%), and manufacturing (39%).  It still presents opportunities to address inefficiencies in the supply chain and reduce the environmental and financial costs.

Wastage mostly occurs due to spoilage,preparation, plate wastage, and food which is prepared but not served. In its preparatory study on food waste across EU 27, the European Commission identified a number of causes for wastage which include lack of awareness and cultural attitudes, inefficient stock management, cooking and serving practices, and marketing strategies and standards (European Commission, 2010). For example, the simple action of taking leftovers home tends to be frowned upon which results in food being thrown out rather than consumed later. Portion sizes prove to be tricky, as already-set portions might be too much for personal appetites, however a buffet style also leads to wastage as individuals might help themselves to more than what they actually will consume.

© Anna von Flüe

Financially, this food waste represents a huge loss for the food service sector, as perfectly edible food is being thrown out. This now ex-food, accounts for costs for the providers, as they buy ingredients, store them, and then pay employees to make the necessary preparations for consumption (Kreienberg, 2018). Such ineffectiveness in the present food service system makes providers spend money on products which will never be consumed.

Environmentally, this wastage of food is a double loss, at pre-consumption and the post-consumption stages (Lipinski , O’Connor, & Hanson, 2016). The initial stage consumes natural resources such as land, water to grow produce, then energy sources for transportation and production which account for GHGs emissions. In the post-consumption stage food waste needs to be collected and treated which again require energy and land resources. This process results in greenhouse gasses and methane emissions as waste decomposes in landfills.

© Anna von Flüe

Socially, this has negative implications on the global issue of food scarcity, where one in nine people is still malnourished. Food waste, especially in the food service sector highlights the global social inequalities, as certain parts of the world don’t have a constant reliable food source,  while other parts of the world are wasting edible food (Oliveira, Pinto de Moura, & Cunha, 2016). Especially, in the food service sectors, consumers seem to lose their responsibility and ownership of food because they are detached from its production and preparation. This culture of abundance which is assumed for an enjoyable dining out experience devalues food and generates waste, however this does not have to be so.

What can be done?

Let’s not give up on the food service sector just yet, as it is still a sector ripe with opportunity to reduce food waste. Simple but effective changes can be made in the kitchen, during service, and at consumption. Technology can provide means to prolong the shelf life of produce broadening the time frame within which produce can be used in kitchens. Together with the right tools and attitude kitchen staff can be equipped with more creative thinking when using their produce to minimize losses. Food operators take on a role in educating both staff and consumers on the implications of the food waste. In turn customers can reward providers which are reducing their food waste and finding more sustainable means to provide their service without diminishing the overall experience or satisfaction.

Luckily HOTREC, the umbrella Association of hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes and similar establishments in Europe provides guidelines to reduce food waste and recommendations to manage food donations. These are step by step changes which providers can make to reduce food waste, right from constructing the menu to recycling and reusing food leftovers (HOTREC, 2017). Such changes would eventually improve the competitiveness of these food service providers, as it cuts their financial costs and also offer better prices for consumers.

Some of the suggested improvements include:

  • Favour flavours over quantities
  •  Involve your customers in your efforts to reduce food waste/losses: encourage them to act responsibly and sustainably
  • When possible, favour advance bookings to have a better view on the quantity of products to be ordered and stored
  • Have a responsible person in charge of food donations. This will avoid mismanagement of food surplus, and therefore prevent avoidable losses

Source: European Hospitality industry guidelines to reduce food waste and recommendations to manage food donations, HOTREC, Hospitality Europe (2017)

So, what does this mean?

Our collaboration with the European Youth Parliament Netherlands, and involvement at the National selection conference, stand as an example how a localised initiative can provide a solution to environmental issues which can seem overwhelming to tackle. This catering contributed to reducing food waste and the environmental impact, while providing attendees with nutritious delicious food , and  insight to practical way of addressing food waste. We have shown how, with the right changes the food service sector has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system This catering event also reaffirms the role that youths play in societal change, which should never be underestimated. Both organisations Taste Before You Waste and the European Youth parliament the Netherlands are youth led and committing their efforts towards a positive impact.  With such small steps, we continue on the mission to minimize food waste and maximize the food value, along with all those offering their support.

Sources

European Commission, 2010

FAO, 2011

HOTREC, 2017

Kreienberg, 2018

Lipinski , B., O’Connor, C., & Hanson, C. ,2016

Oliveira, B., Pinto de Moura, A., & Cunha, L. ,2016

Vol, 2014

 

Special thanks to the Thanos Theofanakis, Head organiser at the 19th National Selection Conference, Amsterdam, and TBYW  Events coordinator Jenny Willcock for their contribution. 

When looking at the way we organize our meals, most of us follow a day-to-day or meal-by-meal logic. While such irregularities have a series of affects on our daily rhythm, this blog post focuses on another seemingly small but still relevant symptom: the waste of food produced due to a lack of planning.

As hunter-gatherers of the 21st century, we daily cross the grocery store, become enthralled by aesthetics or hunger and snatch all these fresh beauties. Sometimes other unanticipated tasks pop up or the laziness kicks in and the meal is not being prepared. Not a problem, the food will still be good the next day. But what about all the other days to come? How can we make sure that the goodies in our fridge and cupboards are not going bad that quickly? How can we plan more efficiently so that as little as possible – or in the best case nothing – goes to waste?

As a food surplus organization we engage with these questions on a daily basis. In doing so, we are always eager to learn and brainstorm with our fellows in the search for best practices, be it through workshops, lectures or panel discussions. Zoe, one of our hosting coordinators, therefore set up a workshop series consisting of three sessions to identify better food surplus management. The first workshop engaged with the question of how to treat your foods appropriately to postpone present symptoms of spoiling. Zoe worked out different guiding themes that play a relevant role in the according planning, and allocated the themes to the workshop tables in the first session. Each group of participants was invited to discuss ideas related to their table theme, followed by a plenary session on more general ideas and know-how from the audience. We were surprised by the many ideas that were brought to the tables, mostly household insider tips and some good old grandma tricks.

In the following you can find an overview of these tips and tricks: 

 

  1. Daily physical check

Check what is in stock: Take a photo or write a list of fridge contents. This helps to avoid buying doubles or unnecessary foodies, which eventually end up in your trash bin.

  1. Supplements

Make a shopping list of things that would complement your stock. For example, use sticky notes or download one of these modern grocery shopping apps!

  1. Resistance

Stay strong towards marketing strategies from supermarkets; don’t give in to ‘buy one and get one for free’ if it doesn’t serve your own consumption well. Also, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, which definitely ends up in steering your choices according to the momentary craving for food.

  1. Tailor-made care

Bread: Always keep your bread in paper, never in plastic, and in a dry, dark place instead of the fridge. It will most likely not mold. Moreover, think of ways to process it once it is not fresh and soft anymore. For example, cut slices and put them in the freezer, every time you crave bread you can portion what you need.

Leafy greens, spring onion, leek, and herbs: But them in a glass with water or roll them into a wet towel and but them in the fridge. It keeps them alive like a flower, and it might even keep growing a bit. Alternatively, chop herbs before they go bad and fill them into an ice cube tray with a bit of oil, this way you can always add a dose when you cook and need it.

Bananas, avocados, tomatoes, apples, citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, and nectarines: Keep them outside of the fridge in a dry place; they will keep their taste and durability.

Potatoes and carrots: If possible, keep them in a pot of earth or sand in a dry and dark place, or leave them dirty, they like that!

Most other delicate veggies and fruit like mushroom, broccoli, cherries and berries: These need respectful and delicate treatment, most suitable in the fridge (or freezer, if you want to keep them for later).

  1. Cooling

Also your fridge has different climates, so to say: The coldest spot is at the bottom, which makes it the perfect storing space for veggies (yes, that’s what these plastic drawers are for!) On the top, you can keep your cheese and other foodies that don’t suffer from the minimally higher temperature. In general, keep your raw ingredients at the bottom and away from the cooked food. The door is the warmest area of the fridge, suitable for condiments and juices.

  1. Symbiosis

Vegetables and fruits affect each other’s ripening process when kept in close proximity (they release ethylene gas). For example, ripe bananas will make other fruits and veggies ripen faster, and green apples will make potatoes keep longer. Foods that release ethylene include:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, honeydew, grapes, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruits, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, and prunes.

Vegetables: Green onions and tomatoes.

  1. First In, First Out

Don’t wait until the last moment and organize your fridge so you eat first what went in first.

  1. Measurements

Weigh your dry pasta, rice and grains before cooking to avoid making too much. For an indication, check the packaging or experiment and note down your personal quantity, usually around 50 – 100g dry per person.

  1. Freezer Library

In general, freezers work like a time capsule for fresh food – it locks nutrition and preserves the taste. You can freeze your fruits, coconut milk and curry pastes, as well as cooked meals. Use labels to recognize the icy things in your freezer. Portioning it beforehand will save the hassle to cut frozen food.

Some good old granny tips:

  • When you know you will eat your avocado but it is still too hard, you can wrap it in newspaper and put it in a dry cool place. It should be ready to eat in a day or two. The same goes for bananas.
  • Some say that its better to keep eggs outside of the fridge since it has a natural layer that protects it from going bad. But it depends in which country you live, or if it’s organic or not.
  • When you separate bananas from their bunch, they will continue ripen more slowly.
  • If any of your veggies are looking soggy like carrots or lettuce, soak it in ice-cold water. It will harden it and bring it back to its natural state. Soak flabby salad in ice-cold water right before serving.

We are looking forward to see you at our next sessions!

 

Please note that there are different opinions and perspectives concerning some of the tips we prepared. In most cases, the appropriate treatment depends on factors like temperature, durability and moisture. Try out for yourself and note down what works best in your case. Also, please feel free to comment and share your feedback and tips with us!