Our Role as Individuals in the Generation of Food Waste

Fagjun | Published 2017-06-24 08:05

How much of the food you buy ends up in the trash?
[Photo by Redd Angelo]

Researchers say that we generate more food waste than we realize each month. A change in our mentality may be able to help us avoid wasting so much food.

When we go to the grocery store to stock our kitchen up for the week, we of course don't think that we'll eventually throw some of our purchases away. Of course, we honestly believe that we'll be consuming everything we buy. However, it turns out that we don't actually manage to consume all the food we bring home. A single person, in fact, can waste about nine kilos of food every month.

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a nonprofit, released a study on food waste in 2012. According to the study, 44% of food in landfills came from households. 33%, meanwhile, came from the food service industry.

Reducing Food Waste Starts at Home

Make sure to know when certain kinds of food go bad.
[Photo by Brooke Cagle]

Food waste refers to the food that we buy but don't consume and thus throw away. Ruth Litchfield, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, may have found the reason why we waste so much food. It's apparently in our mentality, our habits, and the way we look at acquiring food. We want more than what we objectively need, so we buy too many things at the grocery or order too much food at a restaurant.

Susan Arendt, a professor of hospitality management at Iowa State University, says that a number of restaurants have been following initiatives to reduce the waste they produce. Things such as donating food to soup kitchens or farms or asking customers which food they'd prefer can help restaurants reduce waste. Perhaps households can benefit from adopting similar techniques.

Excess is what drives food loss and waste.
[Photo by Nicolas Barbier Garreau]

Cutting down on food waste can actually be surprisingly simple. Planning your meals and using non-perishables is a good way to start. You can also use perishable items right away to make sure they don't go to waste. Even something as trivial as understanding the difference between a sell-by date and a best-by date can be useful. Keeping all this in mind can help people reduce the food they throw away.

Changing a mentality that we've been used to for a while won't be easy. However, if we're serious about reducing food waste, it's something that we need to at least try. Reducing waste isn't a huge or complicated undertaking, and doing so will benefit both our health and wallet in the long run.

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