Considerable amounts of food are wasted in many western industrialized countries, and even in some developing countries, for a variety of reasons.
In industrialized and relatively well-off countries, food is wasted due to harvesting, transportation, distribution, and family structure and life styles.
In developing countries, poor roads, and access to markets represent the most crucial problems.
While in many western cultures people buy food once weekly in huge grocery stores stat carry staples, produce and fruits, seafood, poultry, meat and dairy products, in developing countries housewives go shopping almost every day and buy only what they need for the day. These visits are mostly but not only for shopping, but also to meet friends, and chat with vendors to find out what markets are doing and what produce is fresh.
Some researchers investigated and found food waste in Canada to be approximately $ 27.0 billion (yes it is billion).
Much of this waste can be contributed to over purchasing, to single people living on their own, huge refrigerators that are overstocked, packaging, and shortage of labour to harvest crops, poor storage, sorting, and partially also slow distribution through the system.
Of course transporting fresh foods between countries represent its own waste problems. Nature’s intent was never to grow food in one continent that would be consumed in another as is the case now, for example Indian okra, Chilean grapes, or nectarines, or peaches, Kenyan string beans, Argentine pears, Florida oranges, California lettuce, Chinese apples, and pears, Japanese mandarins, Israeli oranges, Italian or New Zealand kiwi are just a some that come to mind in Canadian grocery stores.
Transporting huge quantities out-of-season fruits and vegetables also leaves a large footprint on the environment.
Many North American shoppers have the wrong idea that all produce has to be graded. Most think that the size of a fruit is more important than taste, and this is patently wrong.
A misshapen carrot tastes as good as a regular one, and an apple with a blemish can offer the same satisfaction as one that was picked unripe, and “ripened” in a warehouse.
Bananas are almost always picked “green” and force ripened in warehouses at destination markets.
If you ever have an opportunity to taste a ripe banana at a plantation or a ripe juicy peach shortly after picking, you will know exactly what I mean. Wasted food contributes to wastewater, (agriculture is the largest fresh water user in the USA and certainly in many other countries), energy, poor air quality, land use/soil depletion, wild life habitat and packaging materials.
Every consumer can contribute to at least partially eliminate food waste buy buying less but better quality, plan ahead before going to shop, buy more frequently, with preference to locally grown food to the extent possible, buying seasonal fruits, vegetables, seafood, and cook enough for enough people that will consume, and avoid processed foods altogether.
It has been calculated that each North American wastes 183 kilograms of food annually. In Western Europe, this figure is slightly less with 179 kilograms.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.