The food waste problem goes far beyond what it is shown to us. Just because we don’t see the actual amount of discarded food and wasted energy doesn’t mean it’s not there. However, that what you don’t see is intentionally hidden from the mainstream media. Why? Just think about it, the food industry is made of money-driven companies whose only interest is profit. And your wallet generates that profit for them.
But, what if you saw the actual food waste lying under the small pile of trash visible on the surface. You would realize that the amount of lost and wasted food surpasses all the “normal” levels and would probably think twice before buying food you don’t have time to use. Needless to say that spending less money on food is not in the interest of the big food industry players. So, becoming aware of this vicious cycle can be the beginning of creating lasting solutions that can repair the environmental damages in the long run.
The food waste problem is referred to as the food waste iceberg. Like the iceberg, almost 90% of the wasted food is hidden underneath the surface.
Along with the 1.3 billion tons of food that end up in the trash every year, there is a significant amount of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals that irreversibly harm the land, water and air. At first glance, we cannot see that the total losses include greenhouse emissions, climate change damages, water waste and loss of wetlands, deforestation, and a massive decrease in biodiversity. These damages are mentioned scarcely and in a different context from the food waste iceberg. If it was different, and we could see the whole iceberg, the food industry would undoubtedly witness substantial financial losses.
According to FAO, if we put the environmental pollution caused by the human food chain to a numerical value, the cost would equal approximately 700 billion dollars a year. Quite shocking data, isn’t it? Nonetheless, unlike humans, nature doesn’t think in a money-oriented way. Our planet doesn´t need power nor material wealth. Sadly, people running multinational companies don´t resonate with the nonmaterialistic mindset. Even more so, they take from nature as much as possible as if there will be another planet Earth, after destroying this one. Unfortunately, if we don´t start to change our mindset on a global level soon, we might end up without our precious place to live.
Indeed, significant changes have to occur at the national and global levels. The governments and international organizations should influence the food industry to such a degree that the current practices should be replaced with more sustainable ones. Raising awareness that food waste happens unnecessarily at every level, including harvest, production, distribution and retail, should be included in every environmental action.
Finally, the food chain ends with the consumers, and we, as the consumers, are responsible for changing our behaviors. It can be small as storing our food correctly, buying an adequate amount of food or using leftovers from the previous meal. No matter how small the first steps may be, they can create a butterfly effect in repairing our planet by incorporating the much-needed sustainable solutions.