Food waste and its impact on environment

What is Food Waste and Its Impact on the Environment

What comes to your mind when you hear the word food waste? We were often enjoying food on every occasion in marriages, parties, buffets, restaurants. Everyone has a craving for some food as it is connected to emotion. But can you imagine a day without food? Can you sleep a night on an empty stomach without eating anything?

I think it is nearly impossible to fall asleep on an empty stomach. Even most people like me can’t fast for one day. The sad thing is 190 million Indians remain undernourished as per UN Report. This is because they don’t get nutritional food after an adequate amount of production.

What is Food Waste?

If we go 20-30 years back, people were consumed only locally produced vegetables, fruits. Now due to globalization, all foods are easily available anywhere. In India, you can get kiwi, green apples, red grapes. Indian mangoes in Germany. Sometimes that feels good, but the distance between the farm and your plate is so long. It creates a lot of waste at every level, like farming to reach your plate.

Wastage of food is a major problem today in the whole world. 40 per cent of food beings wasted, and people not getting food to eat.

The Food Waste Index Report 2021, conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its partner organization WRAP, states that “around 931 million tonnes of food waste was generated in 2019, 61 per cent of which came from households, 26 per cent from foodservice and 13 per cent from retail.

Only India contributes 68.8 tonnes a year of food waste which is 50 kg per household per year. By this measure, the undernourished population in India is 14%.

Causes for Food Waste

  • Mainly food loss happens during the initial stage that is in the production stage due to natural calamities, lack of skill, poor infrastructure, and improper practices.
  • People often bought extra unnecessarily because of marketing tactics of supermarkets like buy one get one. Most of the time these foods are discarded.
  • Due to more supply to the market than required.
  • Supermarkets aesthetic standards like shape, size, weight
  • Portion size in restaurant

In every stage, food waste occurs starting from production, during handling and storage, processing, transportation, distribution, consumption. Therefore, we need to think about food waste seriously as its direct impact is on the environment.

Impact of Food Waste on the Environment

Before discard, any food items might be fruits, vegetables, meat. Think about how it is produced lots of resources required to produce food like water, land, fuel, labour. Wasting food means wasting all the resources. For example, farming requires almost 70 per cent of the earth’s fresh water. With food, we waste the earth’s most precious resources.

When food waste goes to landfills, it produces a greenhouse gas called methane. Food waste is responsible for up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, according to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, it is one of the largest contributors to climate change.

If you are wasting any packaged food products or processed meat, then it adds some extra energy. Along with the waste, one more addition to the list is plastic waste.

Humans are becoming a destroyer of the earth. Because we are making the earth the worst place for the next generation. Wasting food means destroying the most valuable resources like water required for agriculture and trees cut for farming.

What we can do about it?

As a first step, we should take responsibility for our own food individually. Individual efforts can make a bigger difference.

1. Buy from local vendors

When we buy locally produced vegetables, fruits it has lots of advantages. Local products are cheaper, healthy and most important is it save losses during handling, storage, processing and transportation.

2. Avoid processed and packaged foods

Packing and processing food products require a lot of energy. Therefore, discard of these foods items meaning destroying all the resources. Also, packaging products contain various toxins to improve self-life, which are not good for health.

3. Grow your own vegetables

It makes us realize that how foods are grown up. We can’t throw foods which are grown up with our lots of care and effort.

Plan your requirements according to how many meals you will eat at home, then go for buying. Buy what you really need and use. Don’t trap in the offers and discounts.

Most priority should go to the training of the farmers so that they can produce good quality foods without using fertilizer. Then storing and distribution process. If oversupply happens in an area, it should be diverted to any other area.

Supermarkets, restaurants, and retail outlets can control their food footprint and take action. Supermarkets and retail outlets can sell, reducing prices. Otherwise, they can donate to needy people.

Sometimes if foods spoiled and can’t be eaten, they can be used for animal feeding. Don’t throw to the dustbins it can be used for making compost.

Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.

Pope Francis

Adopt a sustainable lifestyle and save the earth for your upcoming generation. Otherwise, they can’t see what we have.

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