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  • Writer's pictureSarah Brosnahan

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste 2023

On 29 September 2023 signifies the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW).

It is a day to stop and reflect on the task at hand when it comes to food loss and waste and look at ways, as a global community to move forward.

Currently, 1/3 of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted (source FAO). Alongside this is the stark fact that between 691 - 783 million people faced hunger in 2022 (source: FAO). If the fact that we are wasting good food that could be going to hungry bellies isn’t enough, we then look at the reality that 10% of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to food waste and loss (source: WWF). That is an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is being wasted that could feed people but instead is feeding the climate crisis (source: Love Food Hate Waste).

So how did we get here? Many factors contribute to these numbers, whether it be loss on the farm due to climate-related events (think onions floating down the road as we saw in the Auckland floods), big retailers rejecting produce because it doesn’t meet their aesthetic requirements, damage or loss during transportation, people purchasing more than they need, improper storage of food leading to food being spoilt. And this is just the tip of the food waste iceberg!

As a global community, we have a job to do when it comes to addressing food waste, from system change to mindset change around how we store and manage food in our homes. So let's look at some tangible ways in which we can all take action against food waste.

At home

  • Educate others. Knowledge is power and it ceases to amaze us how many people are completely unaware of the issue we face globally when it comes to food waste! Helping to spread the word is a great way to help more people do their part.

  • Get storage savvy. Storing food correctly ensures it lasts longer and stays tasting great! Review your food storage and seek out the best ways to store food. A great resource for this is Love Food Hate Waste’s food storage tips.

  • Plan Plan Plan. Buying more than what we need not only contributes to food waste but also means people end up spending more each week on food than they actually need. It is estimated that as a nation we wate 1.17 billion on food that we buy and then throw away (source: Love Food Hate Waste). Mind blowing - we agree! Making a list each week before you go shopping, is a great way to ensure that you walk away with only what you need, saving both food and money from being wasted!

  • Check your bread game. Bread is one of the most wasted food items with 29 Million loaves going to waste each year in New Zealand alone! (source: Love Food Hate Waste) Rescue bread where possible, pre-sliceing and freeze it to prevent it from going off.

  • Each year it is estimated that 45% of edible produce never leaves the farm gate (source: Perfectly Imperfect), due to it not meeting retailer size requirements or having slight visual imperfections. Choosing to purchase odd-shaped fruits and vegetables from subscription companies like Wonky Box and Perfectly Imperfect not only helps to prevent this produce from being wasted, but also gives you a great selection of seasonal produce at a great price!

  • Rescue food from Foodprint! On average, eateries have around 1000kg of surplus food per year. Rescuing meals off Foodprint not only stops delicious food from being wasted, it also supports local business, prevents greenhouse emissions that come with food waste and also saves you money!

  • Order your fruits and vegetables through services like Wonky Box, Perfectly Imperfect and Misfit Garden.

In your community

  • Supporting local growers and choosing to buy with the season is a great action to take and farmers' markets are a great way to do this. Not only do they often work out more cost-effective, but you also get to build a relationship with the people growing your food!

  • Volunteer with community organisations such as Fair Food, Kairos and Everybody Eats, who are helping to re-distribute surplus food to those who need it. Distribution is a big issue that contributes to food waste and loss, so anything we can do to help get surplus food to those who need it, helps to eliminate waste all while feeding hungry bellies!

  • Tell your friends and colleagues about Foodprint! If you’d like help in doing this, get in touch with us.

At a government level

  • Vote! So much of the change we need to see needs to start at a government level. With the upcoming general election, read up on what actions each party is looking to take with regards to food waste and climate change and make your vote count toward a better future for people and planet. Some great sites to check out are Vote Compass & Vote for Climate.

  • Keep informed and take action! Keeping an eye out for petitions that require support is a great way to take action against climate change. Check out the Eat NZ Petition. Another way to keep informed is to get follow and subscribe to newsletters such as Climate Club. Each week they give updates on whats happening in the Climate change space in Aotearoa and simple actions you can take.

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste is a great day to take a moment to pause and reflect on how food waste is sneaking into your life and ways in which you can do your bit to change this. What actions are you going to take?

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