A couple of weeks ago, I and Pav participated an interesting student run organisation – Food Hall in Sheffield. This is a quite meaningful activity and we gained some cooking skills from savoy trained Michelin star chef Simon Boyle. The chef Simon Boyle gave us a workshop with various surplus foods that they could gather together. I have to say the food cooked by Simon was attractive and delicious. This inspires me to pay more attention to the surplus food and food waste.
So what is the surplus food exactly? To put it simply, it’s the extra food which means more food than is needed at the time. Generally speaking, this word also is related to the food waste. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, Each year 1.3 billion tonnes of food, about one-third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. At the same time, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition in particularly those people who live in developing countries. Actually, Food wasted throughout the whole food supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption. But there is no doubt that the significant proportion of food waste is produced by the domestic household. In addition, in the UK, 15 million tonnes of food is wasted each year and consumers throw away 4.2 million tonnes of edible food each year. That is to say that 11.7% of all food purchased is avoidably wasted, at an estimated cost to each family of £700 a year, or almost £60 a month. And potatoes, bread slices and apples are respectively the most wasted foods by quantity, while salads are thrown away in the greatest proportion. Currently, the foods most commonly found in British bins are bread, vegetables, fruit and milk, says The Guardian. As for me, sometimes I have to throw away several spoiled foods which cannot be consumed on time. Such as banana, grape and some stuff like that. This issue is probably because of improper storage, buying or cooking practices as well as misunderstood the date labels. Furthermore, wasted food leads to billions of tons of greenhouse gases emission which is the prime culprit of global warming and needlessly consumes precious land as well as water resources shortage.
Currently, most people are more likely to buy lots of groceries at once from the market. So, today’s refrigerators are always full of food. However, people are unable to consume all these food at a time; this may contribute to the surplus food. Further, over-ordered and over-supplied foods are important factors which could lead to surpluses as well. At global context, Food and Agriculture Organization illustrate that by 2050 food production will need to have increased by 60% on 2015 levels to feed a growing global population. Reducing food wastage would ease the burden on resources as the world attempts to meet future demand.
So, making good use of surplus food is not only reducing the food waste, but also it is critical for achieving sustainable development. Reducing food waste and take advantage of surplus food is not easy as it occurs in every stage of food supply chain including production, storage, transportation and consumption. Therefore, government need to play an important role in this process. Because government is able to coordinate, at national level, the initiatives, activities and projects on food waste reduction by cooperating with other national organizations such as Food Bank, and national stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society. Also, government or policy maker should take responsibility for helping to raise awareness of the issue of food waste and providing practical information in store and online to help customers reduce the amount of food they waste.
At the individual level, we as the consumers need to change our buying habits. For example, planning meals, using grocery lists and avoiding impulse buys. In this way, we are less likely to buy things that we do not need and are unlikely to actually consume. Buy items only when we have a plan for using them, and wait until perishables are all used up before buying more. Secondly, try buying exactly what we need. If the recipe calls for one onion do not buy a whole bag. Instead, buying loose produce so we can purchase the exact number we will use. Likewise, try buying grains, nuts, and spices from bulk bins so we can measure out exactly what we need which could avoid over- buying. Further, food redistribution is a feasible way to address surplus food. People can donate the food to the non-profit, charitable organization such as Food Bank which distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger. By the way, I am really happy to work for Food Bank once as a volunteer. It is quite meaningful and I wish this kind of organization could be generalized in China as well. Well, let’s go back to topic; do not forget to donate the gross stuff as well. These things could be made as an ingredient in animal feed. So many farmers happily accept these things.
Overall, Reducing food waste and preventing food surpluses are considerable important for people around the world. An incorporated approach which could coordinate all the stage of the food supply chain needs to be introduced by government. On the other hand, people as consumers, should change their current consumption and buying patterns whilst adopting more efficient plan in their daily life