In the last “Gastronomy series” entry I will cover some possible solutions to the food waste problem in the gastronomy industry. I would like to focus on three issues that in my opinion are key to making a significant change in the high percentage of food that is thrown away.
First I will focus on a more practical approach. In one of my previous entries I have mentioned how food donation works and also briefly described how Food Banks operate. I believe the problem of these organizations is that they only work locally. Food Banks should be working on a larger scale and it would be perfect if they were managed and organized by city authorities (I said city, because it would be a very hard job to get to all the rural communities together). Of course it could also be managed by a private company (that for example would be paid from public money) or by an NGO. How would it work? To describe this system I will make some assumptions.
First of all, a new law will have to be implemented. All gastronomy establishments would be obliged to donate food that wasn’t served. Then a special network of delivery trucks would pick the food and take it to food banks or special eateries. The problem we would face now is that people that go to such kind of places might feel that they are eating leftovers, so there is an important need to create a special menu. Maybe it will change the way of thinking about that food. You may say that it is a great idea, but it can work mainly in developed countries where there is better infrastructure, more money and simply more food waste. Well, it is still a good start. In the future people might create plane networks (plane would have special freezers) that will transfer food into poorer regions of the world.
Another significant change would be delivered by NGO’s or individuals actions that are willing to contribute. There are some organizations that organize special events and educational campaigns for people to change their behaviors. The NGO “Love Food, Hate Waste” is focusing on the fact that people consume too much. It can be easily proven by the increasing number of obese people in the developed world (1). In each country such NGOs should be created to start influencing people to change their behaviors and make them realize that by consuming more (and I am not only speaking about food) they are actually harming themselves. I will get back to that idea at the end of this post.
A Canadian organization called Ontario Association of Food Bank’s has created a program to harvest all left over crops that were considered not profitable (2). Does it make them not edible? Last year they have collected almost 6 tones of potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants and corn and donated them to Toronto Food Bank. Another example that is worth pointing out is the way of living of Tristram Stuart. Besides being a writer (if anybody is interested in this topic I really recommend to read his book “Waste – Uncovering the global food scandal”) he also successfully showed that people could live differently. Of course, it depends on the individual’s free will and commitment to this conviction. He was living for a couple of months only feeding himself with food found in London’s garbage. Last November he organized an event “Feeding 5000” on Trafalgar Square in London (3). Those people were fed with food that would be otherwise thrown away.
Tristram’s actions are a perfect connection to get to my main point of my Development Perspectives blog. If people, the inhabitants of planet earth, want to do something about the tons of food waste they generate, they have to change the way the think and act. The main problem for us to understand is the fact that almost every one of us is only able to make a change in his/hers behavior or way of thinking, only if we see tangible negative consequence from our actions. Our biggest problem today is the high level of consumption. Sometimes I feel that people won’t stop throwing things away, unless they will see those things hiding the view from their own window.
We have entered the XXI century 12 years ago and we still think and measure success in XIX and XX century ways, by counting tangibles like money, property, country measure their development level by GDP. We need to change that way of thinking because it is outdated and it doesn’t reflect the environment we live in today. The US Environment Protection Agency suggests a 6 step process on how to decrease food waste (5). The most important is to reduce the quantity of generated wastes. Then it goes through feeding hungry people, feeding animals and finally as a last resort, to use landfills. It is very important for all people to be aware of those priorities. Education and information diffusion in the food waste problem is crucial.
Food waste is a very complex problem. Many actions from different sectors and fields have to be taken and implemented in our day-to-day life. This is why I believe it is so important for the NGO, individuals and governments that are conscious of the food waste problem to lead others by example. It is the only way this issue can be tackled. People will see that another way of life is possible. At first it will become a trend and then it will become something that everyone will do. In history we have a lot of examples that shows this process. Recycling was on of those processes. First it was only available for rich countries, then it became a trend in all of the developed countries and now it is something that people simply do. So I invite all of you to lead others by example and to contribute something to better our own environment. At the end I wanted to share with you this inspirational video. Hope you will all like it.
- World Health Organizations – obesity and overweight facts http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/facts/obesity/en/
- Bain, J. „Creative solutions to handle food waste” – http://www.thestar.com/article/920184
- Official action website – http://www.feeding5k.org/
- Official Tristram Stuart website – http://www.tristramstuart.co.uk/default.html
- US Environmental Protection Agency – “Putting surplus food to good use – A how to guide food service providers”
posted by Piotr Wielezynski