Today Special : Stop Food Waste Day
Stop Food Waste day on April 28 aims to teach people ways to reduce food wastage. It’s crazy to think that around a third of the food produced on Earth goes to waste — either it’s lost or goes bad! This day aims to raise awareness of this shocking statistic. While so many on Earth go hungry, the issue of food waste is only growing.
HISTORY OF STOP FOOD WASTE DAY
Humans, particularly in America, weren’t always responsible for the massive amounts of wasted food and food products. Centuries ago, before Europeans migrated and settled in the land occupied by Native Americans, food wastage was an unknown concept. Native Americans, who primarily hunted and gathered for their meals, were well-known to use every part of a slaughtered animal; hides were used for clothing and shelter, brains were used to tan the hide, and even bones were used for tools to sew or dig holes. Rarely did anything edible or usable go to waste.
The early pioneers echoed this story. Settlers moving westward in the new continent, the pioneers of the late 1800s, were faced with scarce resources and harsh conditions so they adopted many similar practices to eliminate food waste. The pioneers were sometimes even known to donate food, though before this they would use the lard for soap, and even make use of parts of an animal’s body like the head and feet.
The modern concept of food waste as we conceptualize it today was created in the boom before World War 1 — industrialization. Suddenly, food and goods that would have been challenging and expensive to obtain were being churned out and processed with such alarming speed that they lost their precious value. Industrialization made it easier for people to accept waste because they knew there would be more available the next day and, that too, at an affordable price. However, new sanitation systems still used food waste in creative ways, and people recycled what was possible, often out of necessity.
World War II, in many ways, marked the end of scarcity. Towards its end, rationing ended, the Depression was over, industry was booming, and new materials and waste disposal practices made it easy to chuck whatever you had, buy a new one, and feel secure with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. At this time, food waste began to take off — there was no longer a need to repurpose it, and disposal of perfectly good resources was becoming widespread.
Today, food waste is a rampant problem — almost half of the food produced in the United States goes to waste. This means there are 80 billion pounds of good food simply sent to the trash! With this trend came great inequities, since millions of people experience hunger and starvation every day. There are roughly 219 pounds of wasted food per person per year. How will you change your number?
HOW TO OBSERVE STOP FOOD WASTE DAY
- Stock your refrigerator smartly : Humans can’t help it, our animal instinct is to buy more food than we need. However, if we want to reduce our food waste, it’s our job to fight the instinct! Instead of buying in bulk, plan what you’ll need for the week and make sure you have the means to store it.
- Store food correctly : Food spoilage accounts for over 60% of food waste! Learn to store your perishables correctly, or invest more heavily in frozen or nonperishable foods. Did you know that potatoes, tomatoes, and onion should never be refrigerated?
- Eat the extras! : From leftovers to the skins on fruits and veggies, there is often so much more edible food in a meal than you think. Too often, skins on fruits, vegetables, and chicken are peeled off and go to waste — don’t miss out on the nutrients! Another great way to reduce your food waste is to feast on leftovers.
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT FOOD WASTE
- There are millions starving : If we lived in a world without food waste, experts believe we would be able to feed 3 billion more people — that’s a lot more than the 925 million who are estimated to go hungry today.
- Wasted water is expensive : Annually, uneaten food wasted ¼ of our water supply — to the tune of $172 billion.
- Landfills create methane : We’ve all heard of methane, the greenhouse gas that’s pumping the gas on global warming even more than carbon dioxide — food rotting in landfills produces a huge amount of this dangerous chemical.
- Fruits and vegetables are the most wasted : Some of the most perishable foods — fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers — go to waste more than any other variety of food.
- Ugly food gets tossed : A significant portion of food that is wasted is done so simply because grocery stores don’t find it aesthetically appealing enough to shelve.
WHY WE LOVE STOP FOOD WASTE DAY
- It teaches us new things : There are many ways to avoid food waste! This holiday makes us more aware of our habits and teaches us tips and tricks on where we can cut back wasteful practices.
- It reminds us to give back : Food waste hurts the millions of people who go hungry every day and hurts the producers of food. There are ways to support these groups by donating your time or money! Today is a great day to look into helping those who don’t have enough on the table.
- It combats an important environmental issue : Food uses a colossal amount of water, energy, transportation, and labor to produce, ship, and distribute. When food goes to waste, it creates a massive and completely avoidable loss of resources — not to mention the millions of people who go hungry every day.