It is not at all uncommon to see a perfectly wrapped and uneaten sandwich, or a half eaten container of takeout in the garbage bin. Sadly, discarded food is a sight seen far too often. According to a recent study, Canada is one of the worst offenders.
Research conducted over the past year by public and industry leaders in food waste Second Harvest and Value Chain International found that Canadians have wasted or lost nearly 60 percent of the food they produced, which equates to 35.5 million metric tonnes of food.
Four million Canadians live in a state of food insecurity, which means that they do not have reliable access to adequate amounts of safe and nutritious food. This ignores the alarming amount of people worldwide who have little to no access to food.
Small things like using a shopping list to limit your food purchases, using reasonable judgement before swearing to an expiration date, or eating your bruised apple are all helpful gestures. You can also donate food to and or become involved with your local food banks and homeless shelters. You can find food banks near you using the food bank finder on the Food Banks Canada website.
Perhaps we waste so much food because too much of it is produced. There are many reasons for big business to want lots of produce; for a quicker service experience, or to keep shelves looking full. But when a huge portion of this fresh produce on shelves passes its expiration date, or has a visible blemish and cannot be sold, is it even profitable for grocers to fill their shelves in this fashion? Capitalism tells us to value convenience and monetary gains, and that we should buy in abundance. However, upholding this profit-hungry mindset can only be done at the expense of the unprivileged and to the detriment of our planet’s health.
If humans were to only produce the amount of food we needed, it would result in less land use for food, fewer animals killed, fewer natural resources extracted from the earth, and perhaps a decline in health related problems like obesity and heart disease.
James Joyce, the Irish novelist, understood that “mistakes are the portals of discovery”. The looming climate crisis may provide the necessary push into reforming our habits of production and consumption.
Written by: India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner