Leaving a better footprint
Recent statistics mean we must change wasteful habits
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 18:09
It was jarring to learn last week that one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste.
The United Nations released a report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on National Resources, that details and analyzes the “impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective.”
As millions of people go hungry every day, it is immensely disconcerting that 1.3 billion tons of food gets wasted every year, according to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization. That is $750 billion worth of food.
Not only are these statistics devastating to consider regarding hunger in the world, but these are also staggering statistics for our economy.
It seems we are buying more food than we need. But it also has to do with overproduction – which raises more environmental concerns.
Campus Dining & Shops has taken actions to try and reduce waste through buying more local produce and comparing pre- and post-consumer food waste at specific dining locations.
This is a good start and we are proud it is happening at the university. But there needs to be more overall action taken.
What these statistics tell us is that there needs to be more oversight and more studies monitoring food waste.
But what we also need are more programs and outlets that educate the public on how to purchase, prepare and store food to reduce the amount they waste.
Restaurants also need to take responsibility for combating the amount of food that gets wasted. We are not naïve in failing to recognize that waste is inevitable at restaurants where they prepare food to be served in mass quantities, but certain measures can be taken to combat this.
What could help is an increase in donations to homeless shelters and City Missions, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture – so much so that they are trying to ease the restrictions on donations.
Easing restrictions on the food that can be donated means that restaurants, grocery stores and individuals would have more capacity to provide food to these outlets and less going to waste.
It also means they can spend less on feeding over 1,000 people three meals a day at the Buffalo City Mission. There are exponential benefits to easing these restrictions.
Stuart Harper of the Buffalo City Mission said to WKBW, “It would just allow us to reach out to more people to provide, continue to fund our program.”
Along with certain policy changes, we should all be aware of our own contribution to this unfortunate shift in food waste. Individuals need to be cognizant of our collective role in ensuring less food gets wasted every year.
As college students who will soon be entrusted the responsibility of educating the next generation, this should become a larger priority. Our behavior and actions now regarding food waste will impact our children’s generation, so we should do all we can to make sure that we don’t contribute to an added burden.
Also, wouldn’t we want our own money to not go to waste? We see our friends and peers throwing away food recklessly too often, and much to our chagrin, we will admit we have been culprits as well.
But now that these statistics have been released, it is our responsibility to be aware of what actions need to be taken to decrease food waste. We should also spread awareness and ensure that more people fully understand the implications of food waste – both morally and economically.
The first step, however, is changing our own behavior.
Sociological research demonstrates that change in behavior often precedes a change in mentality. Addiction treatment programs understand this and Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “fake it ’til you make it.”
These statistics should induce a call to action. For it is action that will ultimately make a difference.
Now that this information is available to the public, it is time we all take steps to alter this unfortunate trend of our own manufacturing.