Food wastage | Facts & thoughts

When talking about sustainability food waste is one of the factors that needs to be considered.

There is alot of talk about not wasting food – which is super important. Not only do you save money by not throwing away food, it is better for the environment! However the biggest problem with food wastage is not in private households – it is in food stores, restaurants and food production. That is where hundreds of kilo food is thrown away daily. It is actually heartbreaking to think about the statistics of food wastage.

It is not sustainable. Throwing away food is wasting resources, and many times the food is still edible it is just that it can’t be sold. When it comes to meat and fresh food such as fruits and veggies, then it goes bad rather quickly and it is not edible so has to be thrown away. But it sickens me how much meat and dairy products are thrown away daily….  how animals are slaughetered and killed so that they can be eaten – but end up just being thrown away anyway. Animals killed for nothing. It breaks my heart just writing this post, but in a way i would rather that someone actually eats the meat/dairy rather than it being thrown away because that is not only a waste of life, but waste of resources. (However it would be much better – from all aspects if no animals were killed for food.)

Meat Info Graphic

This weekend i was working in the bread section of the store (as well as with meat/fish). And each morning you throw away the bread and baked goods that are left over. I had this HUGE conflict inside of me when having to do this…. every part of my mind was thinking, this is not ok. To be throwing away maybe 10kg (or more) baked goods. And the only problem was that they were a day old…. otherwise completely edible. [I do have to note, that the store i work at does donate the left over bread and baked goods to a food charity several days a week, but not during the weekend].

There was nothing i could do but throw it all in a rubbish bag and throw it away. And the same with the meat and fish that had gone out of date. [And during the summer when i worked in the fruit section and dairy section, there was ALOT of fruit and veggies thrown away daily. Several kg or more.] Also… let’s not forget that food stores usually only sell the grade 1 fruits and veggies i.e cucumbers that aren’t straight or fruit and veggies that are slightly deformed (still completely natural) don’t even make it to the stores because they don’t “Look as good”. Usually these can be found in farmers markets though!

^This was just some of what i had to throw away ONE DAY. I was super conflicted and felt awful having to do it 😦 😦 😦 ^[Note, not actually allowed to have my mobile on me when working….. this could cause me problems, but hopefully not]

And this is just one store…. I can’t even estimate how many kilo food is thrown away each day from just one store. And times that by the amount of stores in just one city….. and in one country. It is insane. And then of course all the bakeries, cafes, restaurants, food companies…. 

Of course, most stores and food businesses do keep an eye on sales. And if a certain food or product isn’t selling so well or alot is being thrown away daily/weekly, then they will order less of the food to minimize food wastage – because it does cost the business to have to throw away food.

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Food wastage is everyones business and of course, if you can minimize your food wastage that is amazing. But if you end up throwing away from scraps from time to time, that is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is all the big businesses that sell food in some form. It is a political and much higher problem that needs to be resolved and something needs to be done about this.

Earths resources are limited and at the rate that we are wasting food it is not sustainable. Not to mention that in the western world we are throwing away food in a rapid pace, while in other countries there are people starving. Infact, there are people starving and homeless in our own cities and countries and we throw away food like it is nothing – when instead we could feed the homeless in our own cities. But because of capitalism, businesses don’t want to give away food for free – if they did that, people would stop buying food. (Or so they think….. I don’t believe that. Even if businesses give away food to food charities, people will still always pay for food. But we should atleast try to help those that can’t afford to pay for food.)

 

10 facts about food wastage from foodtank.com

  1. 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year
  2. This amounts to US$1 trillion dollars of wasted or lost food
  3. If wasted food was a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the United States and China
  4. Just one quarter of all wasted food could feed the 795 million undernourished people around the world who suffer from hunger
  5. Food waste in rich countries (222 million tons) is approximately equivalent to all of the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons)
  6. A European or North American consumer wastes almost 100 kilograms of food annually, which is more than his or her weight (70 kilograms)
  7. A European or North American consumer wastes 15 times more food than a typical African consumer
  8. Lack of technology and infrastructure is the main cause of food waste in Africa, as opposed to household food waste in the developed world
  9. Food waste in Europe alone could feed 200 million hungry people
  10. Food waste generates 3.3 billions tons of carbon dioxide, which accelerates global climate change

More food waste facts from FAO, HERE

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To produce food requires land, water, chemicals, electricity, energy both in the form of tractors/machines/human energy, transportation (between countries and within the country). And then there is the electricity and energy and heating/lighting in the stores and cafes and restuarants where the food is stored. It requires so many resources – only for a certain percentage of the food being produced to be thrown away. A complete waste of resources. It is not sustainable – but there is such a demand for food and we are producing more than is necessary, while a part of the world is still malnourished and dying of starvation.

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If i am honest – i really don’t know what we can do about this. As mentioned, it is a problem that is much high up than just in the private household. I think it is something that politicians need to take responisbility over and make laws that can lessen the amount of food waste each year. But also that business owners take responsibility.

As mentioned, many business owners and food stores do keep an eye on how much is thrown away. But you can never really know from day to day and there will always be food wastage. The fact is that resturants, stores, cafes etc they always want an abundance of food just to “make sure” as well as it looking better if there is plenty to choose from rather than just few foods/items to choose. This of course also results in huge amounts of food thrown away because most often the demand isn’t as high as the supply.

I don’t know what we can do about this….

I guess as private households to not throw away as much food. But also when possible – buy food that is close to the best before date if we know we can freeze it in or use it before it goes bad – this saves the store from having to throw it away.

Also shopping at stores online, such as matsmart (or if you have a similar store in your country) where they sell foods that won’t sell in regular food stores (either because the products are close to the best before date [but still fine to eat], or maybe the packaging is a little dented and so stores don’t want to sell them, or if the store just ordered too many and canät sell them. So you can buy them for cheaper in the online store.) Or even buy reduced food from certain cafes/resturants that often sell the left over food for a cheaper price. There are usually apps for this, i think!

I feel very down about this right now… i just wish there was more i could do, but it is such ahuge problem that one person can’t fix.

If you have thoughts about this or tips or ideas, please comment below… i would love to know your thoughts!

 

**Also in this post i didn’t even mention all the fast food restaurants, schools, hospitals etc that throw out food daily.

You can read more at FAO resources, HERE

How to store fruit and veggies & how long they last

I may be 22 years old and eat a whole bunch of fruit and vegetables daily… but if i am honest, i have no idea how to store fruit or vegetables correctly. Or well, i did learn about this in one of my courses in school but it went in one ear and out the other. (I.e after my test was done i just forgot everything i leant, haha)

Basically i just keep most of them in my fridge and don’t think twice about it…. but i know that some of the fruit and veg i have would be best kept in the pantry or a cold, dark place which isn’t the fridge. Not to mention that some fruit and veg should be kept seperate, or some should be stored side by side so that they ripen quicker (?).

I found an infographic and some information about how to store certain fruit and veg properly, as well as how long they last if stored correctly which i wanted to share. Not just for you, but for me as well… maybe i will finally learn and store the produce correctly. Though i sort of think…. i will manage to eat or cook the food before it goes bad so it doesn’t really matter.

I hope this helps someone else 🙂

When it comes to advice on working in the kitchen, there's a lot of ground to cover. Anyone who can master the art of making food is truly talented! -- Click image for more details. #homeimprovement

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Earth day 2018 – Plastic pollution & ways to minimize plastic use

After spending c.a an hour writing and researching for this post, i realized this morning when i checked my blog that the post i had written (& posted) was gone…. no text, no pictures, no links and no draft  or history to be restored. First i felt irritated and sad… just like when you write an essay and the document crashes and you lose all your work you just want to give up and refuse to start again. But as this is such an important topic, i decided to just rewrite the post as best i can.

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So yesterday, 22nd April was Earth day. It is a day/tradition that has been celebrated since 1970, i.e 48 years now.

It is a day to bring awareness to the planet. To climate change and global warming. A day for people to think a little extra about what and how their habits and choices and lifestyles are affecting the planet. A day to participate in activities that bring awareness to the environments, a day to join in on marches or to contact politicians and other “high up” who need to take action and make a change.

Each Earthday has a theme… something that we need to focus a little extra on, and this year it is plastic pollution.

Plastic is one of the worst substances/materials we have because it takes so many years to degrade. Even the compostable plastic doesnt always get recycled and renewed. And alot of plastic that doesn’t get recycled ends up in the water or out in nature and can end up killing wild life and sea life.

“Plastic is made to last forever — it cannot biodegrade. Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer, according to a 2009 article published in scientific journal Chemistry & Biology.” (Source)

Example the whale that was found dead with 29kg of plastic inside. 

Plastic waste and plastic polluation is a serious problem which more people need to think about and become aware of.

According to Vox: ” A 2015 study found that between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic makes it into the ocean from land each year. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight.”

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I have written posts about minimizing plastic usage HERE.

Ways to help the planet HERE & HERE. A vegan diet compared to meat diet in terms of water and resources HERE. If you can’t go vegan, other ways to make a difference HERE.

A vegan/plantbased diet is one of the best ways to make a difference for the environment. Even if some food has to be imported such as different beans or grains or fruits and vegetables, it still uses alot less resources as well as less CO2 emissions than meat and dairy factories and products. But not only diet matters – recycling, limiting the amount of plastic you use, not travelling as much with car and plane, lowering the amount of electricity and water you use as well as not wasting food are small things that make a difference.

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Many people think that “one person doesn’t make a difference”. What does it matter if buy a plastic bag, or what does it matter if i don’t recycle or always use my car…. but the problem is that the majority of people think this way. If everyone could instead think that “if everyone collectively makes small differences and changes, it will add up and make a difference over time.” It is not about being perfect… i still buy on the go coffee somedays when i forget to bring my thermos, i still take a straw if i buy a cola after a night out and somedays i use more napkins than necessary, but the majority of the time i make eco-friendly choices as much as is possible. And THAT makes a difference.

Global warming and climate change is a growing problem. Species are dying and going extinct. An increase in natural disasters. Clean water and oil are two resources that might run out in the future. An increase in CO2 emissions effecting the ozone layer.

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This warming is playing out in sharp and sudden ways across the Arctic. Researchers reported last year that a section of Greenland’s ice sheet suddenly started melting 80 percent faster. Another study found Greenland’s entire ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in at least 400 years, and that the melt rate sped up drastically in 1990.

If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet” (Vox.com)

It is time that everyone starts trying to make a difference. Many have the mindset that “I won’t be alive in the future anyway, so it won’t impact me”… but if we want the future generations to live in an ok world and be able to eat and drink clean water and have energy and electricity, then we need to make a change now. Not to mention all the animals that might go extinct for different reasons if we continue with deforestation and pollution of the air and water.

 

No one person can change the world, but if everyone makes small changes it will add up.

I suggest that you get your friends and family involved and more aware of making a difference. No littering, no wasting, turning off lights and electricity when not using it. Minimizing plastic use, using more public transport and less travelling with cars and planes.

It is time that we all take action and make a difference! You may not think bringing your own thermos to a coffee shop or bringing your own bags to the stores or not using plastic cutlery or straws makes a difference, but if everyone were to stop with plastic it WOULD make a difference!

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Tips from Earthday network: 

“You may be lulled into thinking it is OK to consume disposable plastic products because you plan to recycle them, but many plastics can’t be efficiently recycled and will end up in the landfill or littering the planet, even in the most remote places,” Merino said. “Also, some localities lack the most basic infrastructure to manage waste and to sort and recycle plastics. For this reason, it is much more important to focus on reducing your own level of plastic consumption.”

Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network on how to reduce your plastic footprint:

 

  • Every time you consider buying a disposable plastic item, ask yourself: Do I absolutely need this? Can I use something else that I already have? Could I buy something that I can use long-term instead?
  • Properly dispose plastic products and be careful not to toss plastic products near waterways, beaches or in open spaces.
  • Pick up plastic trash whenever you see it, especially in ponds, streams, rivers and on beaches.
  • Don’t buy products containing microbeads, which are plastic particles commonly found in exfoliating body washes and facial scrubs. Instead, purchase products that have natural exfoliates.
  • Wash synthetic clothes less frequently to reduce the amount of microfibers that are released.
  • When possible, purchase clothing and other items made of natural fibers when possible
  • Get involved in local legislation and regulation to reduce and recycle plastics.

 

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Pre packaged and portion sized foods

Sometimes it feels like plastic and waste is everywhere and so hard to avoid – especially if you buy all your food in food stores like myself. There are of course ways you can minimize plastic and waste such as bringing your own bags to the store, not using plastic bags for fruit and veggies and if possible going to a farmers market to buy fresh produce which is not only cheaper but most likely organic as well (though not always the case!).

What i began thinking about though is all the prepackaged and primarily portion sized food there is in the supermarket. And they are a huge “no-no” if you are trying to minimize plastic and waste.

Example if you buy one of those candy bags where all the candies are individually wrapped and then all together in one big bag. Or even the mini cereal boxes where each cereal portion has it’s own box and then all the boxes are wrapped in plastic. (And i have seen the same with muesli which even comes with a small package of milk which you mix). Even portion sized peanut butter in it’s own small tube and then all the portions come in a box…..

So much plastic and waste. The worst of them all though is the small espresso shots/coffee pots which example N’espresso machines use…. they are terrible for the environment and planet considering that for just one small coffee you may use 1-2 small pots. I even think Germany put a ban on coffee pots/pods. (read here as well).

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Prepackaged and portion sized food can be good if you are on the go example bars or small yoghurt pots or even small portions of fruit and nuts. Or they can be a good way to control portion sizes and so you don’t overeat. However the best for both the environment and your wallet is to buy bigger packs where the food isn’t individually wrapped. Not only does it last longer, it is usually cheaper but also less packaging.

The optimal would of course be to go for the food items with minimal packaging, but you have to realistic as well and choose the foods you like and enjoy and not just based on how much plastic they are wrapped in, hahah.

Have you seen or bought any products where you have been shocked at how much plastic they are wrapped in?

I think the long, thin chewing gum (can’t remember the name) is one of the worst i have seen/bought. Each chewing gum is individually wrapped in some paper, then all placed in the small container/box and then wrapped in plastic!! Even poptarts is another food where so much wrapping is used.

I understand that it is necessary to keep the food safe and keep it from going bad or molding, but they’re should be better options or material used!!!

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Also now when i think about it, things such as the small raisin tubs, microwave rice, small pots of fruit are all rather unnecessary. I understand that they are good for on the go or if you don’t have alot of time, or even for kids…. I guess there just needs to be a better material/wrapping/container form used instead of plastic!

Palm oil? What is it? Is it vegan?

Palm oil…. it seems like a very controversial and debated topic. Also many say that palm oil isn’t vegan as the production of palm oil effects the area where it is grown and the animals that live there. However palm oil isn’t made from animals meaning that it *is* vegan, however it can have consequences and effect animals indirectly.

What about health wise? Well palm oil is a saturated fat meaning that nutritionally it is not a food you want to consume alot of. However as palm oil is mostly found in processed foods such as biscuits, spreads, cakes i.e all the foods you really shouldn’t eat alot of anyway. However it is also found in alot of vegan products such as cream cheese, spreads and other vegan products.

If i am honest, i don’t know alot about palm oil. I have heard alot about it but never really sat down to research what it is, where it comes from and why it is considered a negative product to consume (aside from the health aspect of course.) So when i got asked about palm oil, i thought now was the perfect time to research and will help me in the future when i get asked about what it is and whether it is vegan or not!’

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So let’s start with, what is palm oil and where does it come from?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the African oil palm tree and is grown in Africa, Asia, North America and South America. (Most of the palm oil is produced and exported from Malaysia and Indonesia).

One of the main problems with palm oil is that for the trees to grow and the production of palm oil, the area needs to be cleared – which has lead to deforistation. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. (X)

This has lead to the animals living in the rain forest, either having to move to another habitat or they die in the process of clearing the area for plantation. One of the main animals in danger is orangutans, and if the deforestation doesn’t stop they could be extinct within 5-10 years.

According to saynotopalmoil, “A large proportion of palm oil expansion occurs at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystems in the countries it is produced. Currently, a third of all mammal species in Indonesia are considered to be critically endangered as a consequence of this unsustainable development that is rapidly encroaching on their habitat.” “Over 90% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years, and as such, is considered “a conservation emergency” by the UN. An estimated 1000-5000 orangutans are killed each year for this development. ” (X)

Not only is the process of producing palm oil indirectly killing animals it is also cutting down trees and leading to deforestation and impacts the climate, “The removal of the native forests often involves the burning of invaluable timber and remaining forest undergrowth, emitting immense quantities of smoke into the atmosphere and making Indonesia the third highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.” And the killing of the animals (Wildlife such as orangutans have been found buried alive, killed from machete attacks, guns and other weaponry. ) is lowering the biodiversity of animals and that of course effects the ecosystem.

There is also a human rights issue with the production of palm oil as there is child labour involved and at times they might not even get paid despite spending hours/whole days at the plantations.

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What about sustainable palm oil production that some companies use?

There are certain criteria and guidlines which have been set for plantations to become certified as sustainable i.e a much better option and if companies do use palm oil they should atleast use the certified palm oil.

A sustainable palm oil industry must:

  • Stop clearing rainforests and developing on peatlands.
  • Manage their plantations responsibly according to Best practice

Best practice refers to methods or techniques proven through experience and research to lead to a desired result; generally accepted as superior to other alternatives and as the best to use in a particular industry. In relation to sustainability, best practices seek to reduce negative social and environmental impacts, and increase positive impacts, as much as possible.”>best practice guidelines.

  • Trace their supply of palm oil back to the refinery and plantations where it was farmed.
  • Establish safe and fair working conditions for employees.
  • Properly consult local communities on new developments. 
  • source
  • Certified palm oil plantations get a mark/certification from RSPO which can be used to show it is certified.

    RSPO Trademark logo for products containing certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO)

    The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an organization committed to making oil production as environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive and sustainable as possible. (X)

    They only award RSPO certification to producers who adhere to their standards by following certain guidelines (the ones above)

    “Only 35 percent of palm growers that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil are actually certified by the RSPO. Meaning the other 65 percent pay to be “members,” but have taken no action to adhere to the RSPO guidelines in their growing practices.” (x)

    Sustainable/certified palm oil is just an alternative and *sort of* better option – it doesn’t actually stop the deforestation that happens with the palm oil process. So even if it is a better option it doesn’t really solve the actually problem. Also from my understanding even if some plantations have the RSPO certification they don’t always follow the guidelines  which is very problematic if someone thinks they are consuming certified palm oil i.e not as devastating consequences, but in actuality they are supporting something they don’t want to.

    Read more about sustainable palm oil here

    What happens if companies/products stop using palm oil?

    Palm oil is one of the cheapest oils to use as well as having a high smoking point a good texture/properties for so many different foods – which is why it is used in so many products. Many who boycott palm oil think it should be replaced with coconut oil  as it has sort of similar properties however that is also a problematic food (won’t write about that here). What would you replace palm oil with?

    This is not something i can answer, instead i think the products using palm oil shouldn’t and don’t need to be sold anyway i.e all the processed food…. i mean, it’s not something we *need* in our diet anyway.

     

    Which foods contain palm oil?

    Certain make up and shampoo and household products can contain palm oil.

    Ice cream, chocolate, margarine, cookies, premade bread and dough.

    Oatly products use palm oil (even though it is certified palm oil)

    Read more here

     

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    Final thoughts? Consume palm oil or not?

    My final thoughts…. avoid palm oil as much as you can. I.e if there is an option of products containing palm oil or not containing it… choose the option that doesn’t have palm oil. However consuming products that have certified palm oil from time to time is ok and is a much better option than consuming non certified palm oil.

    The more whole foods you eat and cooking food yourself the less palm oil you will consume which is of course better for the animals, environment and health – so it is a win-win. However donä”t feel bad or guilty if you do consume something that contains palm oil… you can only do your best.

    Is palm oil vegan? Considering it has no animal products in it – yes it is vegan by definition. However uncertified palm oil can indirectly kill/harm animals which isn’t so vegan…. so just do your best to avoid palm oil as much as you can – that is my final thought! 

    When it comes to what foods you buy and consume  you could go crazy thinking about it all – all the different steps, processes and things you are supporting you didn’t know you were supporting. For example the netflix show Rotten shows some of the dirty business behind certain foods and food production… i mean something as simple as what garlic you buy has a HUGE impact elsewhere in the world.

    All you can do is your best and sometimes you have to pick your battles. Being aware, getting educated – it makes a difference, but don’t drive yourself crazy either. You still need to eat and everything in balance and some problems such as palm oil also requires businesses and governments to take action even if individual choices still make a difference.

    What are your thoughts about palm oil? Where you already aware of the consequences of palm oil?

    Also  if i have missed something or maybe you have some extra knowledge, feel free to comment below, i want to know more and see all sides.

    Post: how to wean yourself off of palm oil

    10 facts you need to know about palm oil

    Palm oil alternatives

    Lots of articles about palm oil

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