This post is written to raise awareness for #WorldFoodDay15.
World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.
At a very young age, I was taught that we all come in different size, colour, form, and shape.
The same holds true for the nutritious food we produce.
I was also taught to treat everyone equally and to not discriminate. Sadly, grocery store giants do exactly that. They discriminate. They discriminate against deformed carrots, misshapen oranges, and lop-sided apples.
From a business standpoint, I can see the strategic reasoning behind this.
But in the grand scheme of things, these food giants are essentially exploiting their superiority over small, family-owned farmers. Demanding what serves best for the business without considering the environmental consequences and the amount of food waste produced.
I recently watched a documentary called “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” that documents the copious amount of food wasted in the food industry.
I was shocked to learn that
- Nearly 50% of all food produced is wasted – discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens.
- In Toronto, single-family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year (although that city’s expanding composting program captures about 75 per cent of that). That means one in four food purchases still ends up in the garbage. (Toronto taxpayers spend nearly $10 million a year getting rid of food waste that’s not composted.)
- Over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even make it onto store shelves because they’re not pretty enough for picky consumers.
- About 20 per cent of Canada’s methane emissions (a greenhouse gas that traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide) come from landfills.
The documentary made me realize how our detrimental consumer patterns and demands are driving our ecosystem to the ground.
But who’s fault is it?
We tend to play the blame game.
It’s so much easier to criticize than to take create change.
“Oh it’s all these big food giant’s fault.”
“They should manage waste more efficiently than dumping food into landfills”
No one likes to admit their faults. But I think we’ve come to a point where it’s apparent as to who’s fault it really is. There’s absolutely no denying that there is something wrong with US. Us as consumers that are driving demand for good looking food, subsequently leading to piles of rejected food that just won’t sell.
How we can actively participate to reduce food waste
1) Bruised is Good.
Buy bruised produce. They’re ugly but they’re good.
2) Be a Minimalist
Buy only what you need.
3) Screw expiry dates.
Expiry dates are just made up dates by manufacturers that approximate the shelf life of a product. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has gone bad (especially for non-perishable items).
4) Freeze em!
Put food in the freezer to prolong its shelf life. With the exception of some cold-sensitive produce that accelerate spoilage. See graph below for better produce management.
5) Get Creative
Be creative and find different ways in using up every single part of the produce. For example, what can you do with a pumpkin? Carve out the meat for pumpkins squash soup. Pumpkin seeds lightly toasted in the oven. And.. a carved pumpkin for halloween.
Some awesome initiatives that are rescuing food as we speak!
Shift your mindset. A step towards reducing food waste.
Why must we scrutinize a perfectly edible piece of fruit just because it’s a little bruised or dented?
Is it not another form of wrongful discrimination? A form of prejudice of the slightly less attractive “apples” on the shelf?
I’ve only become aware of how brainwashed I am. Wired to pick the shiniest, roundest, the most perfect looking fruit on the shelf. It always seizes to amaze me how perception can change everything. Every day is a learning experience and every day I’m gaining new perspectives to make myself a better person to serve our global community.
So next time you go to the grocery store, promise me one thing.
Don’t discriminate and challenge yourself to pick the “ugliest” one in the pile.
Cause I did 🙂