Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction: join it!

The UN designated 29 September as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, due to the critical role that sustainable food production plays in promoting food security and nutrition worldwide. A new platform will ease the struggle against hunger that affects poor people and the environment as well.

The Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction is a prominent output of FAO’s new Strategic Framework!

Studies commissioned by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimated yearly global food loss and waste by quantity at roughly 30 percent of cereals, 40–50 percent of root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20 percent of oilseeds, meat and dairy products, and 35 percent of fish.

The tool developed to reduce this problem was the "Technical Platform for Measuring and Reducing Food Loss and Waste," which gathers information on measurement, reduction, policies, alliances, actions, and examples of models in reducing food waste worldwide.

In 2014, FAO defined the terms of the program by classifying "food loss" as an unintentional reduction of food available for human consumption that results from inefficiency in the production and supply chain; infrastructure and poor logistics; lack of technology; skills, knowledge, and management capacity."

Among many food wasters, five of them are well known:

  • Misinformed or malicious traders

  • Irresponsible consumers

  • Media with no interest in campaigning to avoid waste

  • Expired food on the shelves that will come out in the trash, without any criteria

  • Over-purchases, without planning, both on the part of the trader and the consumer

As in businesses, hotels, restaurants, supply centers, and even in the domestic environment, the level of awareness still falls short of desirable. It turns out to be another objective of the platform: to disclose the problem in all sectors, without distinction.

According to the studies conducted by researcher and nutritionist Karen Oliveira, "A strategy that could generate great results would be the implementation of Food Banks, both in public agencies and in the private sector. The goal would be to detect and manipulate food left aside by retailers due to their low commercial value due to external damage that does not meet the standards required for sale to the consumer. However, as they still keep their nutritional value intact, it is possible to redistribute them to charities that serve the needy population. Thus, those banks would be a great alternative to combating hunger, ensuring the human right to adequate food!". 

Another efficient strategy would be to standardize a system that avoids losses, especially in the private sector.

In the case of supermarkets, restaurants, snack bars, hotels, and  other businesses, the system could follow this flow:

  1. Menu with similar ingredients: prepare a menu that takes the same elements to prevent items used in only one or two dishes from losing their validity because they are less requested.

  2. Food conservation: it is essential that you know how to conserve your food, to rightly avoid its disposal out of time. Your dispensation should be a dry and well-airy place without being exposed to the sun. Constant cleaning is also super-important. 

  3. Correct temperature also preserves and prolongs the food’s shelf life: to store the food well to be consumed within its shelf life. Its storage place’s temperature is essential so that it does not spoil ahead of time.

  4. Seemingly bad foods are food too: failing to buy a particular food just because its appearance is not good and does not mean much. Just because the fruit or vegetable doesn't look familiar or is crumpled or damaged doesn't mean it will lose its nutritional value. 

The platform will help reduce waste in the rural sector, starting with farming, as the producer better avoids pest and disease control.

The quality of fruits and vegetables delivered to supermarkets is often defined because the selection due to imperfections to small deformities results from management and transportation.

Consuming bark and seeds is another interesting idea, as it can be more nutritious, qualitative, and environmentally friendly. This practice is one of the Responsible Gastronomy movement’s missions, created by the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection.

According to the institution’s executive director, also engaged the chefs who are opinion makers, plus communities in general, taking these concepts to their homes and disseminating them, as necessary.

With awareness, everyone wins, from people to the environment, when the results will translate into:

  • more food available to the most vulnerable

  • reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint

  • less pressure on terrestrial and water resources

  • increased productivity and economic growth

By Marco Veado - THINK GREEN