I haven’t shared much on environmental sustainability yet, but it is something that I am becoming increasingly passionate about. The threat of our climate crisis is only growing and dismissing it as unimportant, far-off or (and it’s awful I even need to say this) a hoax is ignorant and only adding to this urgent, time-sensitive issue. As a dietetics student, I am also passionate about nutrition/health and at the intersection of this and environmental sustainability, you will find the topic of food waste.
Food waste is not a simple challenge to tackle. It goes way beyond just the food you put on your plate and don’t eat, or the produce you forget to use and then throw out. It starts at the beginning of food production and continues to occur all the way down the chain until it reaches (or likely doesn’t) the consumer. So how big of an issue is this really? Let’s look at some numbers courtesy of The World Counts…
Every year 1.3 BILLION TONS of food is lost or wasted! This is enough to feed the worlds hungry FOUR TIMES over!! There are 822 million people who are malnourished and around 9 million people worldwide die from hunger or hunger-related disease every year. Food is something that so many people, myself included, take for granted. Plus, there are people privileged enough to CHOOSE to LIMIT their caloric intake (which is a part of diet culture and NOT something I support) while there are people literally starving because they don’t have the same resources or access to food.
Not only is this food waste not reaching the mouths of those in need, but it is also negatively impacting the environment. Growing and raising food to feed the growing population of our planet requires resources such as land and water. Due to this, food production contributes to “water shortages, climate change, deforestation, pollution, loss of soil, loss of biodiversity” and more (The World Counts). This food system takes so much from the environment (without giving anything in return) that by 2050 it could collapse if effective change does not take place soon. Before this even happens, the food system is going to be negatively impacted in areas of the world that are already being hardest hit with environmental changes. In fact, this is already happening in African countries. According to The World Counts, there were 20 million people in 2017 that experienced acute food insecurity as a result of climate change. These numbers are only going to continue to rise, and though they might not impact you personally right now (that’s called privilege), they will in the future.
Now that these issues have been addressed, what can you do to help fight this issue?
- VOTE! Voting for candidates that support environmental activism is essential for slowing the negative effects of climate change and finding solutions. Voting with your dollars is also important, you might not think this has a big impact, but people add up. Support those that are local and do a little more research before you head to the grocery store next.
- Plan your meals, use what you already have and save leftovers to get the most out of the food that you buy. This will also end up saving you money!
- Compost. This may seem like a scary idea to some, but with a little research you’ll find that it’s easier than you think and doesn’t require you to be a gardening pro. By composting things like peels, rinds, egg shells and more, you are preventing these items from entering land fills where they would emit methane instead of breaking down.
- Get informed and educate yourself on these issues so that you know what is going on in the world around you and can look to find solutions that you can incorporate into your own life.
I hope you can take something important away from this post and will be a little more conscious about your choices in the future. If you made it this far, thanks for reading this and I believe that YOU can help make a change!