Can this be true: are we this wasteful?

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On January 17 The Record and Guelph Mercury featured an article (here) by Jennifer Bain titled “Canadian Waste Land: Canada is a nation that squanders its food. Nearly half of our food becomes garbage”. The article brought to light a bunch of disturbing facts regarding Canadian food consumption, or lack thereof. After reading this article I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the facts mentioned in this article. My hope is that we all take a few minutes to reflect on our “waste” and hopefully persuade ourselves to change how we use food.

”If wasting food is shameful, then why aren’t we ashamed?” (Quote from the article)

There is no one specifically to point the finger at in this problem. Everyone plays a part in wasting food – whether you are a consumer, farmer, manufacturer, restaurant or grocery store. What I found interesting is that consumers are actually the worst wasters though. Estimates suggest that about 51 percent of all the food that is wasted happens in our homes. This is contrary to the popular belief that “food miles” are to blame for food waste. In fact food miles only account for about three percent over the overall food waste. As a result it’s pretty clear that the best way to help this dilemma is to start in our own homes with our shopping lists.

“Why do supposedly cost-conscious consumers waste so much food?”(Quote in the article)

Obviously some waste is inevitable and unavoidable; but recent estimates suggest that 40 percent of edible food is thrown away each year. An American journalist, Jonathan Bloom, mentioned in the article that the amount of food we throw away is equivalent to approximately one-quarter, or one-half (depending who you speak to), of all the food that is produced in the United States. To read more about Bloom’s most recent publication, click here. To follow his blog, visit here.

“If you didn’t grow up with leftovers, you might not know that they can taste as good as or better than the original meal.” (Quote by Bloom in the article)

It’s great that our community has recently started a green bin initiative to take a more ecologically responsible approach to food waste. But unfortunately a recent newsletter from the Region of Waterloo states that only approximately half of the households in the city are putting out their green bins. Yes some of us are starting to improve our wastefulness; we still have a long way to go!

How much food do you waste? Do you participate in using your green bin to divert waste from landfills? Can you think of ways that you avoid wasting food? Feel free to share your tips, thoughts and ideas. We always love to hear from our readers.

Check here tomorrow for Matt’s discussion of the flip side of the coin, how waste is saved and how our work would be much different without it.

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3 Responses to “Can this be true: are we this wasteful?”

  1. Christine Says:

    This reminded me of a conversation I’m having with my eldest son (18) about expiry dates. He eats super healthy and is very careful about health and hygiene. However, he won’t eat something from the fridge without a valid expiry date, even by a day. I relayed to him my conversation with Matt at the Emergency Food Hamper Program about expiration dates being more to do with optimal taste/quality as deemed by the food producer, but to no avail. If the yogurt says Feb. 13 and it’s Feb 14, he’s not touching it, which causes me to lament the waste. This made me realize that my children are part of a whole generation raised in an age of expiry dates – they are completely dependent on what the producer stamps on the package. I can’t help but wonder how much this contributes to our level of waste. It also occurred to me that I grew up without any expiry dates, and as such, was taught to examine and judge food for myself, skills my eldest doesn’t have or doesn’t trust. Fortunately, my youngest son is a Foodie and he’s all about shopping local and making meals from scratch, which kinda makes the whole expiry date thing redundant, reduces our waste, and makes for really good leftovers:)

  2. melissabrosowski Says:

    I totally agree with you Christine. So many of us are now focused on “expiration dates” that we don’t realize most of the date stamps are a “best before” so the food is still generally safe to consume. Working here has definitely taught me a lot about food dates, which I try to pass on to my friends. Many of us would often rather throw things out than use the food we already have, that is probably fine to eat. But hopefully this news helps encourage some of us to pass on our knowledge to those around us and improve things for next years report.

  3. Waste challenge « Hofemergencyfoodassistance's Blog Says:

    […] in The Record back in January about food Waste, which you may remember from the posts that Matt and I wrote (if not, click our names to read the articles), I started following the online blog of […]

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