Last week I came across an article on UN World Food Day, which happened on the day before I read the article. What struck me was that I didn’t know about it…especially in a developing country like China where the topic of food is in the news almost everyday.
The area highlighted by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization this year on World Food Day was FOOD WASTE. And it should be in caps because the statistics are startling. The statistic that has stuck with me for the last week is about the amount of food wasted described as “the agriculture areas used to produce food that will never be eaten are as big as Canada and India combined” per Mathilde Iweins, coordinator of the report. Imagine this is food that will never make it in to a hungry child’s mouth. It makes me ill to think about it.
With just a quarter of the food that is wasted we could feed 842 million people who still live everyday without enough to eat. Twenty-five percent of the world’s children under age five have stunted growth due to malnutrition. It is amazing to compare this statistic to that of the rising rates of childhood obesity in many of the world’s nations. But that is another story.
My grandmother used to say that “there will always be hungry and there will always be poor people”, ( she was such an optimist!) and that we should do our best to help but basically the problem will never go away. As much as I loved my grandmother, I don’t believe that we can’t solve this problem and addressing the issue of food waste is the perfect place to start.
My children will tell you I am the Queen of leftovers. I love them, in part because I can’t stand to see food wasted. But since I seem to be the only one in the house who is keen on leftovers, we try very hard to make just enough food for a meal, avoiding the leftover subject all together. This also reduces the temptation to overeat ( connecting to that obesity problem noted earlier).
There is more we can do to reduce food waste in our own lives. Even before the cooking part, be mindful of your shopping list. Who hasn’t over bought on veggies only to have them spoil and end up in the trash? Try to plan out what you will need to avoid the waste. And if shopping in bulk works best for you, freeze what you can’t use right away.
Look for and support programs (many exist in the US) where leftover and unused food is collected and given to food banks and soup kitchens.
Eat locally. Food that doesn’t have to travel far is less likely to be damaged in transport and more likely to be sold.
Think about the other ways that you can avoid food waste in your own lives and hopefully every step we take individually will add up to less food wasted and more food for the world to share.
Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!
Eat Well Shanghai holds office hours by appointment twice a month at:
The Orange Room Center for Wellness
St.Laurent Building, #201,7B
3215 Hong Mei Lu ph. 6406 3642