January 30, 2023

What is Food Waste?

To explain it in few words, every portion of food bought but not consumed is considered food waste, it ends up in the trash and becomes harmful for the environment.

Food waste is a phenomenon that affects the entire food chain: waste is produced throughout the process of production, distribution and consumption.

The problem is underestimated, yet food waste causes serious damage to the ecosystem and doing everything possible to reduce it, both personally and globally, is a far-sighted, sustainable and intelligent choice: it is equivalent to a commitment to imagine and build a better future!

What causes food waste

How many times have you thrown away a food item before eating it because it has expired a few days ago?
Or again, how often do you find yourself throwing away leftovers from dinner because it is “too much”?

These are some of the most common activities with which we produce food waste, but that’s not all.
In order to understand more specifically what causes food waste, it is necessary to investigate the above three stages related to the food supply chain.

The three main stages of this chain are:

  • Production phase: the initial stage of the supply chain, i.e. the growing, harvesting, raising and processing of raw materials. During the first step the wastes are not indifferent indeed on average about 40% of the total produced is lost even before being collected.
  • Of the remaining 60%, only a portion reaches step 2: this is due to a lack of expertise, poor practices in land use, storage and transport, especially in developing countries.
  • Distribution phase: During this phase, most food waste is caused by marketing dictates. Aesthetically less appealing products are discarded in favor of those that might attract more consumer attention.
  • Consumption phase: the phase that each of us should know best, since it is the phase of home consumption and catering. These are the consumptions mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph and are mainly concentrated in rich countries, where supermarket prices and food abundance mean that “throwing away” is not considered real waste.

How we can avoid waste

There are several possible solutions to avoid or partially reduce food waste and it is possible to act in a small way to start creating a global change.

By following a few simple tips and turning them into habits you can have a positive impact on the environment and participate in the change our planet needs.

Below are 10 tips to avoid or reduce food waste.

1. Reconsider your spending habits

The pandemic has altered our daily balance and even shopping has become an extraordinary experience. From this exceptional period we can surely learn something: reconsidering shopping habits is not wrong. Preparing a shopping list in advance helps to buy only what is necessary and avoid impulsive purchases which can lead to waste or an increase in demand on products not of primary necessity.

2. Proper Food Storage
Often foods are wrongly stored and this alters their properties and accelerates deterioration. It is always necessary to check the labels of food products to understand how they should be stored, when to consume them and how to use them in the most efficient way.

3. Expiry dates too rigid

Expiration dates are taboo for too many families. For some, the expiry date is just an indicator placed there as a precaution, for others it is an incontrovertible law. Both are wrong. Some expiry dates are too rigid and are affixed by law, to indicate the advisable period for consumption. There are different wording and “best before” is very different from “expiry date”.

4. Serve smaller portions of food

It is now common knowledge that getting up from the table before you are completely full is good for your health. Excessively large portions of food are not good for anyone: they are not good for the body, they slow down digestion and increase food waste.
Those who are used to eating excessive portions should review their habits in favor of a healthier lifestyle.

5. Avoid promotions that encourage unnecessary consumption

All too often in supermarkets it is possible to come across promotions that are so advantageous that they seem like scams. Often for a few euros you can buy large quantities of food of all kinds, often not even necessary for a proper diet. Avoiding this type of promotion not only reduces food waste, but also helps small local producers.

6. Learn the art of “recovery” cooking

Those who have studied away from home know well how the art of recovery cooking works. When food is left over on the plate, it doesn’t necessarily have to be thrown away but can be recovered and integrated with other foods to create a new meal. Inventing recipes with what you have is another excellent habit that allows you to reduce waste and use up the supplies you have at home before buying anything else.

7. Buy only from local producers

There are many local producers who are struggling because they can not compete with the big players in the food industry.
Yet, choosing 0 km products is a wise choice that has countless benefits: the quality of the products is higher, it supports local realities and local products, it fights mass production and helps the environment by reducing consumption.

8. Think in advance about what to eat

Almost all diets work on the basis of pre-established programs on a daily basis. Those who follow them with dedication know exactly what they will eat the next day, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Having a clear understanding of what and how much makes it easier to organize groceries, reduce waste and live a healthy lifestyle.

9. DoggyBag

This tip is useful when going to restaurants.
If you do not manage to finish everything that was ordered, you can safely ask to collect it and store it in containers to take home and consume it later. What is left over at restaurants is thrown away…why waste good food?

10. Sharing

When you realize that you have cooked too much food or overspent, sharing with your neighbors is a generous act, not only towards those who live near you, but also towards the environment.
Another solution is to invite friends and family over so that you can reduce waste and use up your purchased supplies.