The Life of Food Waste – What Can We Do?

Well, what is food waste?

When considering food waste, we must start by defining what it means, and why the word waste is used for food which is simply just not consumed for one reason or another – and why it is an issue? The word waste immediately implies that this is something negative. But why?

Ok, so when food is produced, be it from a seed and/or perhaps from the breeding of domesticated animals, we join the economy of nature as we manipulate nature for human gains. However, we are also entering a human economic structure that is produced as a system that enables individuals to focus their role in societies and perfect services and products by focusing their energies, whilst having other essentials produced for them. This is in exchange for money or bartering with other products or services. Essentially, an energy exchange to perfect life as humans on earth. This is beautiful to be part of such powerful synergies on a global level.


Global Community - Citizenship

Wow, hang on, the economics of nature?  Yes, money is just a reason why we try and convince ourselves not to waste food. This is based on the GDP (gross domestic product). GDP is the measure of the monetary value of products and services produced by a country in a given time. For this to work the law of supply and demand must reach equilibrium. This, however, does not add value to the quality of life, and perhaps to the quality of the environment that people live in. For this we must consider externalities such as environmental pollution and also justified energy exchanges such as labour costs which sets new standards for the cost of ethical food products in this case. So in a system where we overproduce food which is a wasteful situation when considering that the resource is not used and that we need to manage them to avoid excessive pollution, we would already be experiencing negative effects of such a system. This is evident in various ways and can happen in all stages of a product. Including production, processing, or at the stage of consumption – and perhaps even at the stage of disposal. 

Just examples of such waste are overproduction, underutilization of a given resource, wastage due to overconsumption and incorrect management of the remaining resources after the given use of food for human consumption.

Yume and Suez's Solution for Tackling Commercial Food Waste

Why should we prevent food waste?

All the aforementioned points seem negative due to various reasons such as the utilization of water to produce food, and the energy it takes to cultivate and move water around with the help of burning fossil fuels. This, as a result, causes the release Co2 into the atmosphere influencing the amount of pollution produced. And thus, a reduction in the quality of life due to changing environmental conditions that supersede the natural rate. Furthermore, the end products which you may call food waste such as fat from meat consumption or cooked food scraps need to be processed correctly. Failure to do this may cause issues such as the excessive production of gas such as methane which when not utilized are released into the atmosphere which ultimately results in the same demise that effects the way we must survive.

We may be innovative as a species and create artificial means to survive, however, there is more to this fine-tuned world that we cannot control, and this is our biodiversity which we depend on. This means, that if we have a global climate shift we will need to also ensure that ecosystems do not collapse. Which is, and will not be, in human reach to achieve – so the equation here is to utilize all resources that we have spent energy on for human survival to ensure we have a biodiverse planet that supports quality of life rather than just measuring success through GDP alone. Let’s face the reality, no developing country that has a very low GDP is going to take action on climate change, so this implies that developed countries in terms of GDP must be the ones who offset the damage we produce from the incorrect use of resources.   This means that food waste on all levels results in environmental damages that affect us collectively, however, the rise in temperature as a result of this may affect the poorer populations to a greater degree on a short term basis.

The Food Waste Iceberg - Q² Food Safety & Quality Consultancy

Take some time to think about the things you require on a daily basis and how you obtain those things? Is there any item you really can do without? Or has the environmental depletion already affected the way you must cope with the environment that we live in?

For this reason, we need to re-evaluate the way we manage our economy and think about different ways to which we regulate the supply and demand markets both globally in trade, as well as on a personal level at home in the way we manage consumption. This allows for the rise of environmental economics which is still a centralized system – which focuses on the externalities aforementioned to ensure sustainability, and thus, keeping our synergies powerful, and for the world to remain a place comfortable for humans to be in. Food, in such a case, is the perfect example, as everyone needs to eat so everyone can contribute to better this sector of the economy. In a model that includes these externalities, we must replace GDP with GPI (genuine progress indicator). We must regulate and add value to such practices, such as plans to reduce emissions produced by farming and food waste by mitigating overproduction and having adequate management systems in place to deal with the excess. This will always happen no matter how much one person can innovate with their food choices. 

One practical solution would be to make it mandatory for people to compost their own food scraps on a global level, which would be tapping into what are known as ecosystem services which are harnessing natural processes that do not cost us in monetary value and provide solutions to protect us from effects such as global warming. We can buy food from local sources that are seasonal in order to mitigate overproduction, and thus, waste of resources. And ultimately, the agricultural pollution and excessive use of energy that it takes to process, transport and store such food sources. If there are any ways that you can subscribe to buy a given quantity of food that is necessary for you, then the producer can produce the required quantity with no overproduction and thus fewer resources that need to be managed, and less energy, which means more efficiency and mitigation of environmental damages.

I invite everyone to criticize this article as being extreme, however, we must all understand that accepting that you are perfect is a weakness and that an ideological way of thinking is a great way to find the solutions for those actions that may just be tangible. Nature will take care of everything else, and I believe that humans will continue to innovate as we see these changes. However, I personally love the countryside and living close to nature, so this is why I choose to live in a way that seeks necessity above the modern ideology of convenience vs financial stability, which is a whole other discussion. The phycology behind the use of money and the value of it is very vast and diverse among cultures, and down to the individual.

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