We chop the good parts of the vegetables and discard the rest. We forget about the food at the back of our refrigerators until it gets funky (to say the least). We buy again and again, out of habit, rather than out of necessity.
The result of our negligent behavior is a ton of food waste. Literally. 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted every year, while many programs are on the rise to help to feed the world’s growing poor.
It sounds unacceptable. And it is unacceptable. Food waste decomposes into methane, a greenhouse gas that is 27 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
I think this time in history is an extremely uncomfortable time for many reasons, including the fact that we can no longer stick our fingers in our ears and hum our way through life. The blinders are off, which is the first step to changing - little by little, and then tons by tons.
The world is full of innovation. These companies, countries, and individuals are proving just that!
Stop Spild Af Mad (Stop Wasting Food), Denmark
Selina Juul is a good rebuttal to anyone who declares that one person can’t make a difference. Russian born, Juul began a Facebook group that turned into action, ultimately grabbing the attention of the EU Parliament. From supermarket signage that highlights cheaper (and older) produce, to doggie bags that encourage bringing restaurant food home, Juul’s initiatives have been part of Denmark’s success at reducing their food waste by 25% in just five years.
From a “rescued” food market that operates on a “take what you need, give if you can” model, to a food truck that offers food to those in need, this sustainability market is on a mission for food waste and sustainability improvement. Their website also has great ideas for recipes made with “wasty” ingredients.
Culinary Misfits, Germany
Founded in 2012, this company was built to recognize the beauty in misshapen, diverse produce that doesn’t make its way to supermarket shelves (and often not even farmer’s markets). Catering, private chefs, and events are built around the fruit and vegetable oddities, allowing for produce to shine even if it isn’t “perfect”.
Ever heard of a food waste audit? FoodSave London looked at the areas where companies were wasting food, and made tangible recommendations for reductions to that waste. While it only ran from 2013 to 2015, it works as an excellent model for other countries to get on board.
Stop Hunger, Brazil
Ever come back from a restaurant absolutely stuffed? Of course you have! Stop Hunger has an initiative known as Satisfeito, which asks people to eat slightly smaller portions at a restaurant. The customer pays full price for this smaller amount, and the money saved by the restaurant goes to organizations that fight child hunger.
OLIO app, Saasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook
This app was created for anyone who has wondered why they can’t borrow a cup of sugar from their neighbor. It connects people and businesses so that surplus food can be shared rather than thrown away. Even food in your fridge that will go bad while you're on vacation is fair game for someone to pick up and enjoy. It is now being used in 41 countries.
Pope Francis has been quoted as saying, “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and hungry.” When we know better, we do better, and perhaps our future will involve far fewer wilted carrots at the back of our fridges.