Food waste starts with us! 

Everyone knows that food waste is bad, but do we really understand it’s full implications?

Maybe understanding all the areas that food wastage affects and where most household food waste comes from will help us to reduce our food waste as individuals.

This may account for the smallest portion, in South Africa. Only 4.14% of food waste occurs in households, within the consumption phase, however this 4, 14% amounts to an estimated R21.7 billion per year.

Therefore there is substantial motivation for us as individuals to educate ourselves and work on reducing our household food waste as there is significant potential for waste prevention.

Many simple procedures can be put into place to educate consumers on ways to prevent household food waste, but first we need to understand where consumers are wasting food and why this food is going to waste.

Due to the fact that many people go to bed hungry it is necessary to look at the reasons for food waste and how food waste can be prevented, specifically focusing on household food waste.

Food production and distribution requires large amounts of energy and other resources, if it is wasted it represents a waste of the world’s limited resources and leads to unnecessary environmental impact.

Food waste has a negative effect regarding its impact on food security, the impact it has on the wastage of resources through the production and distribution of these food items that are going to waste and the environmental impacts that go hand in hand with food wastage such as the disposal of food and its packaging. Therefore the wastage of food and the world’s limited resources as well as the negative effect on the environment, are all part of the problem.

Now let’s look at the drivers of food waste. Most food waste within households comes from unused cooked food or cooked food that has spoiled, too much food being cooked, scraps, such as meat scraps, fruit or vegetable peelings or unappealing raw food. According to a study done in the United Kingdom, 31% of all consumers’ food gets thrown away due to being left unused or due to too much food being prepared. A major cause of food waste is due to lack of meal planning and buying products that are not on one’s shopping list.

Poor planning is another driver of food waste.  Consumers can buy too much of a certain product because they don’t make use of shopping lists, inaccurately estimate the amount needed to prepare a meal, or don’t follow the instructions given in a recipe. 

Spoilage of food occurs due to the improper storing of food.  Partially used ingredients, not being able to see all of the products in your refrigerator and misjudged food needs all lead to the spoilage of food which in effect leads to food waste.

So now how can we reduce food waste?

Well here are a few simple steps:

  1. Shop wisely.
  2. Plan your meals.
  3. Make use of shopping lists.
  4. Avoid impulse shopping.
  5. Be more aware of when food goes bad, by checking sell-by and use-by dates (although these dates are only manufacturer suggestions and some foods can still be consumed after these dates).

Happy munching, mongaggle….and less wasting!

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