World Hunger Day: 15 Practical Tips to Reduce Food Waste and Become a Food Hero

HIBAPRESS-RABAT-FAO

For many people around the world, wasting food has become a habit: we buy more food in markets than we need, we let fruits and vegetables spoil at home or we take portions larger than we can consume.

These habits increase the constraints that already weigh on our natural resources and harm the environment. When we waste food, we also waste the labor, effort, investment and valuable resources (such as water, seeds, animal feed, etc.) that went into producing it, without forgetting the resources needed for transport and processing. In short, food waste leads to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change.

This is a major problem. In fact, every year, tons of edible food are lost or wasted around the world.

Between harvest and retail, nearly 14 percent of all food produced globally is lost. Significant quantities of food are also wasted at the retail level or by consumers.

Food loss is the portion of food lost between harvest and retail, excluding the latter stage. Food waste constitutes the portion wasted by consumers or at retail. We make this distinction to address the root causes of a problem that we can all help to eliminate, whether we are farmers, producers, consumers or traders.

In a world where millions of people go hungry every day, it is essential to reduce food loss and waste. Reducing waste is a sign of consideration towards the millions of people who suffer from hunger every day and for whom food is not a given.

It is up to us to change our habits and adopt a lifestyle that leaves no room for wasting food.

Here are some easy-to-practice steps that help you reconnect with food and what it means:

Adopt a healthier, more sustainable diet

We live at a fast pace and sometimes it’s difficult to prepare nutritious meals. But healthy meals don’t have to be fancy meals. The Internet is full of healthy, easy-to-make recipes that you can share with family and friends.

Buy only what you need

Organize your meals. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid compulsive purchases. You’ll waste less food and save money.

Don’t always choose fruits and vegetables that look good

Don’t judge foods by their appearance! Fruits and vegetables that are irregularly shaped or damaged are often thrown away because they do not meet certain arbitrary standards that dictate their acceptance. Don’t worry, they taste the same! Use ripe fruit for smoothies, juices and desserts.

Store food wisely

Place older products in the front of your cupboards or refrigerator, and fresher products in the back. Use airtight containers to keep previously opened products in the refrigerator for longer, and make sure packages are tightly closed to protect food from insects.

Understand food labeling

There is a big difference between the indications “best before” and “use by date”. Sometimes the food is still healthy after the “best before” label. It is the “expiration date” which indicates that it can no longer be consumed. Check food labels to see if they contain unhealthy ingredients, such as trans fats and preservatives, and avoid foods that contain added sugars or salt.

Start slowly

Take smaller portions home or share the large portions when you go to a restaurant.

Use your leftovers

If you don’t eat everything you prepare, store the leftovers in the freezer to use later or use them in preparing other meals.

Make good use of your food waste

Instead of throwing away food waste, compost it. This way you return nutrients to the soil and reduce your carbon footprint.

Respect the food

Food connects us all to each other. Reconnect with food by learning about the processes that go into obtaining it. Read articles about food production and get to know farmers in your area.

Support local producers

By purchasing local produce, you are supporting family farmers and small businesses in your community. In this way, you help fight pollution and reduce the delivery distances that trucks and other vehicles have to travel.

Protect fish populations

Consume more abundant species such as mackerel or herring, rather than those that risk being overexploited, such as cod or tuna. Buy fish that has been caught or raised sustainably, such as certified or eco-labeled fish.

Use less water

We cannot produce food without water! It is important for farmers to use less water to grow food, but it is also necessary to reduce food waste in order to save the water resources that went into producing that food. Reduce your water consumption in other ways: fix leaks or turn off the tap when brushing your teeth!

Keep your floors and water clean

Some household waste can be dangerous and should never be thrown into the trash. Batteries, paints, mobile phones, medicines, chemicals, fertilizers, tires, ink cartridges, etc. can penetrate the soil and water supplies and compromise the natural resources needed to produce food.

Eat more dried and fresh vegetables

Try to eat, once a week, a dish based on pulses or “ancient” cereals, such as quinoa.

Sharing is caring

Donate food items that could spoil. There are, for example, applications that allow you to contact your neighbors or local businesses to share surplus food and thus avoid throwing it away.

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