Most of us enjoy a good standard of living in the Western World. Our healthcare and education systems, public transportation system and the availability of gas and electricity are several examples of public services we make use of. Furthermore, access to clean drinking water and the availability and choice of food in our local supermarkets has contributed to raising living standards in the past century. However, despite enjoying the benefits of ‘luxury and wealth’ we are also seeing the consequences it has on societies worldwide and the global environment. However, before that issue will be focused upon, let’s first take a look at research conducted on food availability, affordability and quality
Netherlands tops food ranking list
According to the international confederation Oxfam, (fighting against poverty and injustice), the Netherlands tops the food ranking list of the global food index of all nations in the world. What does that mean? It means that the Netherlands has the most nutritious, plentiful and healthy food in the world. In addition, the prices of food in the Netherlands are relatively stable and hardly fluctuate by external forces.
Interestingly, the top 20 of the food list are countries in Europe with exception of Australia taking 8th place. It provides a clear view of the inequality of food availability, affordability and quality of ‘wealthy food nations’ compared to the rest of the world. Bearing in mind that the global population is over 7 billion, Europe has a population of 740 million and yet 840 million people go hungry every day (Oxfam). In response to the vast number of people going hungry every day, Oxfam said that it called for changes in the way food is produced and distributed around the world. It is therefore interesting to see the access people have to food worldwide.
Food security is a condition that “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The map above shows the results of evaluation of the availability, access and stability of food supplies in 197 countries, as well as the nutritional and health status of populations.
It is interesting to see that most countries with the highest food security risk are in Africa.
Obviously, political tensions, economic instability, lack of technological innovations and a poor infrastructure are all factors that affect the availability and access of food supplies in the world. However, knowing that the world throws out about 1.3 billion tons of food every year, it shows the huge amount of food wastage which could otherwise feed the hungry.
The food supply chain produces about 3.3 billion tons of carbon a year. That means 30 percent of the world’s farmland or about 3.5 billion acres is wasted. But what kinds of food items produce the most CO2?
It is interesting to see that most CO2 is produced from the production, processing and transportation of meat such as turkey, pork, beef and lamb. The most probable explanation for this is that meat produced from animals takes more effort in raising, feeding, processing and transporting it to reach the consumer. In addition, animals have a heavier transport to weight ratio compared to for example tomatoes. (Tomatoes are easier grown and more tomatoes can be transported than in kilos of meat.)
The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, José Graziano da Silva said the following in response to the enormous amount of food wastage
“All of us — farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers — must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place”
Indeed everyone who is involved in the food chain should do his/her part to prevent food wastage and as mentioned in the previous article, we as individuals are responsible for 50 kg of food wastage per year. Therefore, we can do our bit and significantly reduce the amount of food we waste.
Below is a list of tips to help you reduce food waste, save money and protect the environment:
1. Write a list!
Menu plan your meals for a week. Check the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards, then write a shopping list for just the extras you need.
2. Stick to the list!
Take your list with you and stick to it when you’re in the store. Don’t be tempted by offers and don’t shop when you’re hungry — you’ll come back with more than you need.
3. Keep a healthy fridge.
Check that the seals on your fridge are good and check the fridge temperature too. Food needs to be stored between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and longevity.
4. Don’t throw it away!
Fruit that is just going soft can be made into smoothies or fruit pies. Vegetables that are starting to wilt can be made into soup.
5. Use up your leftovers.
Instead of scraping leftovers into the bin, why not use them for tomorrow’s ingredients?
When you buy new food from the store, bring all the older items in your cupboards and fridge to the front. Put the new food towards the back.
7. Serve small amounts.
Serve small amounts of food with the understanding that everybody can come back for more once they’ve cleared their plate.
If you only eat a small amount of bread, then freeze it when you get home and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them.
10. Turn it into garden food.
Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings? In a few months you will end up with rich, valuable compost for your plants. If you have cooked food waste, then a kitchen composter (bokashi bin) will do the trick. Just feed it with your scraps (sprinkle over a layer of special microbes and leave to ferment. The resulting product can be used on houseplants and in the garden.
Source: 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste – Save Money and Food – Good Housekeeping