The real cost of food waste

by Maria Fernanda
Maria is an International Development professional with a background in Law. Her goal is to make a meaningful impact by addressing complex challenges and contributing to positive change, in order to create a more sustainable future.

You can connect with her via LinkedIn or Email.  

The high cost of food in supermarkets goes beyond the price tag. Inputs like land, gas, water and labour hours are required to produce and transport food for consumption. Most of the food wasted is discarded not because of health concerns, but due to its unconventional shape, colour or size.

The food waste problem is related to social, economic and environmental aspects. To understand the magnitude of the problem, if food waste was a country, it would have the third-biggest carbon footprint, right after the United States and China. According to World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), 1/3 of the planet’s surface is currently used to produce food. By 2050, food production will have to expand to 50% of the planet’s surface to satisfy a population with the same consumption habits from today. This will affect other natural resources and biodiversity. Studies about food production estimate that agriculture is responsible for 70% of freshwater consumption and is a leading cause of the eutrophication of oceans and freshwater.

Second Harvest, a non-profit organization that works to reduce food waste and hunger in Canada, estimates that 58% of all food in Canada is lost and wasted annually. This translates to $49 billion each year and 56.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, Food Insecurity Policy Research found that  1 in every 6 households in Canada live in food insecure households. To reduce those numbers, it is essential to change the way we think about food. The first thought before purchasing food should be “Do I really need that?” Organizing a meal plan for the week will help us buy the food we actually need, reducing the time spent thinking about what to prepare for the next meal and saving us money. Another strategy is to organize the fridge to keep track of the food we have and avoid spoilage. Follow a “first in, first out” rule. You can also download apps like Flash Foods and Too Good To Go that help to find discounted food for pick-up in ne

Food waste is one of the consequences of the consumerist system we live in, and reducing its impacts requires us to change our habits. It’s not only about saving money or resources. It’s about ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

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