United against food waste

Yesterday I met up with a friend who spent her summer working in the US travelling from one fair and festival to another and selling fast food from kiosks. She mentioned that they would throw away tons of food at the end of each day. When my friend asked her boss why they couldn’t give that food to other people working the festivals, he said that if they give it away for free they wouldn’t come to buy food during the day. So instead they would just discard everything.

This is not a unique example, it happens all over the place. It’s so easy to throw away food when there’s plenty more in the stores, many people don’t even think about it. According to United Nations, we waste about 30 percent of all food produced per year. To produce all that food that will spoil or just go uneaten because it’s after ‘Best Before’ date takes enormous amounts of water and associated CO2 emissions. At the same time, nearly one billion people suffer from malnourishment worldwide. However, the UN is finally taking a stand against food waste while countrywide movements are also starting to emerge and educate the public. Last week during Edible Edinburgh Festival 5000 people were fed with the food provided by local allotments. Here’s an excerpt from a press release about similar event in Copenhagen, Denmark organised by Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad) movement:

Last Friday, October 4th, the Danish Minister for Food Agriculture and Fisheries, Karen Hækkerup, opened Denmark’s largest event against Food waste – ‘United Against Food Waste’, Europe’s first event where the entire value chain was represented.  6,000 people and leading stakeholders were gathered at the Town Hall Square of Copenhagen to make a joint stand against food waste.

<…> They could all enjoy the lovely autumn weather – with bellies full of well-prepared delicious surplus food, which otherwise would have been discarded. The Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries stated that up to one third of the world’s food is being wasted. CEO of Denmark’s largest agricultural organization Danish Agriculture & Food Council, Søren Gade, added that we can only solve the problem of food waste if the entire food value chain makes a joint stand. Many of the speeches agreed with the title of the event – United Against Food Waste: It’s a joint responsibility to minimize the 540.000 tons of yearly Danish food waste.

The top chef Bo Jacobsen argued in his speech that good food demands  good food culture <..> The international food waste expert, Dr. Silvia Gaiani, served good advice from Italy, where Last Minute Market’s uses food which otherwise would have been thrown away.

<..> Nothing was wasted during the day. In collaboration with REMA 1000 (Denmark’s retail discount chain), Project Homeless gathered the remaining surplus food to give to homeless people in Copenhagen. The organic waste from the event was collected by Daka ReFood and converted into biogas.

Photos from United Against Food Waste event in Copenhagen. Images courtesy of Selina Juul (Stop Spild af Mad).

Food waste is a big problem, but we all can take part in reducing it. It’s important to keep in mind how much resources it takes to produce the food and be very sensible about the stuff and quantities we buy to avoid waste later.

Below are some great resources to get you started:

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