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What Is Food Waste & Why Is It Important?

23 Oct 2021
What Is Food Waste & Why Is It Important? |

A lot of food is wasted every day in the United States and the rest of the world. This waste can be avoided by following some simple, but important steps. 

Read on to find out how you can help reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills every day!

What Is Food Waste?

Food waste is any food product that is discarded instead of being consumed. Food waste can be found in every step of the food chain, from farms, businesses, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and homes. Some common reasons why food goes to waste is due to the food being overproduced, under sold, expired, imperfect qualities (such as a small bruise or misshaped appearance), excess food at the store, unused food at home, and many others.

How Food Waste Affects The Environment

Food waste is one of the most important environmental issues we are facing in a world with a growing population, less resources and shrinking land to grow food. With a large percentage of the world population struggling with hunger and undernourishment, it is critical that we reduce the amount of food being wasted across all industries.

The total amount of food wasted globally is staggering. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted annually, which constitutes about one third of all the food produced worldwide. The following summary illustrates how much food is being wasted around the world:

  • 40% of all food produced in North America;
  • 33% of all food produced in Europe; and
  • 30-50% of all food produced in developing countries.

For example in Canada, the total value lost annually is $31 billion . Even though we know so much about food waste, there's plenty of room for improvement in managing food resources throughout the whole supply chain.

What Does Food Waste Lead To?

There are many negative effects in which food waste can cause. For one, it directly affects our landfills by filling up with trash every day and then releasing methane gas when organic materials decay within its confines (which accounts for about 20% of all greenhouse gases). The effects this has for both humans and animals can lead to a number of things such as polluted water sources with toxins from pesticides not absorbed by plants but still present in drinking water; deforestation which decreases natural resources available and also decreases the levels of fresh clean air. Food waste also leads to excess use of resources that would otherwise not be needed to create food that goes unused.

How Can We Tackle Food Waste?

Here are some ways we can reduce food waste:

  • Order smaller plates so you don't over order
  • Learn to use all parts of fruit and vegetables for soups, smoothies, sauces, stocks and more
  • Plan your meals in advance, so you don't buy too much food
  • Buy imperfect fruits and vegetables that are cheaper but still tasty
  • Donate leftover food to shelters or soup kitchens
  • Eat any leftovers within 3-4 days
  • Compost your food scraps to create nutrient rich soil for your garden.
  • Understand what food dating represents (Sell By, Best By, Use by)
  • Don't throw out items past the "Best By Date" as they are typically still perfectly safe to eat
  • Buy wholesale and Misfit foods like our Misfit Variety Mix Of Snack Foods & Candies

What Are Some Ways Schools Can Reduce Food Waste?

Reducing school food waste is a great way to save money, raise awareness about food waste and help the environment. Here are some ideas of how schools can reduce their food waste:

  • Organize a school food waste reduction program , so students and staff can learn about the issue of food waste and how to reduce it
  • Discuss with students and parents why it is important to be aware of our environment and planetary future, and lead by example in reducing your own school's carbon footprint
  • Use a smaller lunch tray that takes less water and time to clean
  • Develop a food sharing program between parents, teachers and the school kitchen to reduce on wasted items such as milk cartons, fruit or baked goods that are not consumed at the end of the day
  • Organize a composting program and set up a designated area in your school to compost food scraps and leftovers
  • Take photos of the food waste at the end of each day, and share them with parents and staff for feedback

What Are Some Ways Home or Small Business Owners Can Reduce Food Waste?

The following are some ideas to help reduce food waste at home:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time so you only buy the necessary ingredients
  • Store fresh fruit and vegetables properly in your fridge so they stay fresh longer
  • Freeze any leftover soups, stews and leftovers to make them last longer
  • Compost your food waste using a worm farm or a composting bin so you can fertilize your garden
  • Have a designated area in your fridge for anything that might spoil, such as milk cartons, eggs, fruit or leftovers
  • Avoid impulse buying so you don't buy food you will not use
  • Donate any unopened items to your local shelter
  • Don't buy too much food that may end up going bad before being used
  • Educate your staff on reducing waste
  • Throw a small event and use left overs or food that is still good but may go bad soon
  • Offer the proper waste bins for employees to recycle and dispose of waste

How Can I Reduce Food Waste in My Life?

Here are some practical ways that you can reduce food waste in your home or office:

  • Use smaller portion sizes
  • Store fruit properly so it does not go bad too quickly
  • Buy fresh vegetables that are slightly wilted, they are still good for cooking
  • Plan meals ahead of time so you only buy what you need
  • Buy food items that come in eco-friendly or recyclable containers
  • Compost any fruit or vegetable scraps so you can create nutrient rich soil for your garden
  • Freeze any leftovers to use at a later date
  • Eat all your leftovers within 3-4 days.
  • Throw food into nearby wooded areas (as long as its your property) so that it may decompose naturally and provide food for small animals, insects, and fungi
  • Always take home left overs after dining out, and as a bonus bring your own container to reduce plastic waste
  • Become active in your community and give excess food to others who may be in need


Why Are Food Waste Reduction and Composting Important?

Food waste reduction and composting are important because food waste is a growing global problem, which has impacts on water management, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and soil quality. In fact , every year about one-third of the food produced in Canada is wasted from farm to fork and about %40-%50 of food in the United States goes to waste!

  • Around 61% of this waste occurs at home. The rest happens during processing, manufacturing and retailing;
  • Food waste that ends up in landfills releases methane which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change;
  • Most people do not realize that food waste is the second highest component of household garbage, and only 34% of Canadians compost their organics. If everyone had a small worm farm or composted their organic waste it would divert over approximately 500,000 tons worth of methane from landfills each year!
  • Composting provides an organic nutrient rich fertilizer for any garden
  • Composting can also be utilized with a Home Digester System which turns food waste into Bio Gas that can heat your home!
  • Cook with what you have so there is less food waste

The entire World wastes an enormous amount of food every day. This is not only wasteful, but it also has a huge environmental impact. You can help reduce the waste that occurs by following some simple steps like using your leftovers for lunch tomorrow, learning how to identify when produce is in its prime before you buy it, and composting whenever possible. Help everyone become more aware of what food waste is and how it affects us all by sharing this post with others!


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