Do not waste food!

In Poland, ca. 9 million tons of food is wasted every year. Throughout the  world –  1,3 billion tons. Otherwise, all  population in the world would not suffer hunger and malnutrition.

In 2010, 925 million people through the world suffered malnutrition. But  every year we waste 1,3 billion tons of food – one third of global food. As much as 222 million ton of food is wasted in the industrialized countries. This is percentage that can be compared to  production  of food in Sub-Saharan Africa (230 million ton) [1].

 

Loss vs. waste

Food is discarded for various reasons; some of them are difficult to eliminate, other can be avoided easily. First, we should distinguish loss of food from its waste. Losses are present mainly in the developing countries and result from lack of expertise in proper storage,  poor infrastructure or difficult climatic conditions; they occur more often at the stage of food manufacture. On the other hand, food is wasted mainly in the industrialized countries by consumers and markets that sell food [2]. In Europe and North America, one person is wasting ca. 95-115 kgs of food per year, while in African countries only ca. 6-11 kgs! In Europe in 2011, ca. 89 mln tons of food were wasted. In a typical European household ca. 20-30% of food purchased is thrown away, while two thirds of these products could still be safely eaten. The inhabitants of Great Britain waste the most – over 20% of the food they buy. The world records of waste are hold by  Americans, wasting ca. 25-40% of food [3].

 

In Poland (according to  Eurostat in 2006), ca. 9 mln tons of food is wasted very year. Poland thus occupies the fifth place in the list of food wasters in the  European Union – after Great  Britain, Germany,  France and Holland. The difference is that in these countries food is wasted mostly by the consumers,  while in Poland  by food industry. Nevertheless, also in Poland an ordinary consumer is to be blamed, too.

Ca.  30% of Poles (in the survey of  Millward Brown SMG/KRC for the Federation of Polish Banks of Food, September 2012) –  6 % more than in 2011 – admit that they throw away food. On the top of the list are young urban and professionally busy Poles. Moreover, the better income and material state, the more food is wasted, according to these declarations.

 

Why do we waste food?

 

The list of products we are most often wasting is as follows:

 

  • bread
  • vegetables
  • sausages
  • potatoes
  • fruit
  • yogurts
  • ready made dishes
  • cheese
  • meat
  • milk [4].

 

Why do we throw food away? The most frequent answers are as follows: termination of date of consumption, improper storage, poor quality, too large portions; we buy too much at a time and have no idea how to use the products purchased. Experts emphasize lack of  educational programs that can make people aware of the consequences of wasting food and educating in storing it, as well as in proper making of shopping lists. The latter reason seems to be of key importance. We are encouraged by marketing campaigns to buy more than we in fact need: promotion campaigns such as “buy 3 pay for 2”, products bought at the end of date ‘best for consumption’ (especially in case of vegetables and fruit), products available only in large packages – all this leaves us with refrigerators full of spoiled products. At the same time we notice with  irritation that we again spent much more money than we expected to.

 

Waste  – uneconomical and unethical

Food waste is not only waste of money. It has serious societal consequences and for our environment. Food product is a final result of a complex process of its manufacture such as packaging, transportation, energy spent and emission of industrial wastes.

Due to the fact that more and more food is wasted,  prices of food grow  and in the long run numerous  groups of customers cannot afford to buy good quality food. Because so many people in the world have a limited access to food  – waste is simply unethical.

Combined with wasted food is a waste of energy and water needed for its manufacture, transportation and distribution. Moreover, it causes great pollution of the natural environment – climate,  water and energy resources.

Garbage.  Throwing away food we produce extra garbage and a large part of is not biodegradable. E.g., in Great Britain people throw away more food than packaging (over 25% of food discarded is unopened in its original package). Climate. Production of food consumer a lot of energy, and it is a factor in intensifying climatic changes. Ca. 20% of green house gases origination is connected with production, processing, transportation and storage of food. Metan originating from spoiled food is 20 times as dangerous as carbon dioxide.  

Water. Water is too precious to be wasted. But 1 kg of beef needs for its production ca. 5-10 tons of water. Mind you, Poland is deprived of rich water resources even more than other countries in Europe.

Energy. To manufacture a loaf of bread, a bag of sugar or a bottle of  milk we need a lot of energy. Do not waste food, as it means also waste of electric current and other sources of energy  that we all need so badly.

As was mentioned above, food industry is responsible for much waste. The practice of „utilizing” surplus of unspoiled food generates huge waste both for the companies and the society. In transportation alone, ca. 35% of food is likely to be wasted. But there is a simple solution to food waste; unwanted food can be offered to the Bank of Food (http://www.bankizywnosci.pl/).

Because of food waste and malnutrition, on 19 January  2012 the European Parliament issued the resolution on the effective use of food in the UE [5]. Of course, the UE is unable to decide all issues for us. We are responsible for our actions in every day situations. First, we must improve our economy.

 

How can you stop wasting food?

 

1.      Write down your shopping list. Plan your meals a few days ahead – e.g.  on Monday plan your meals for the next week. Check the contents of your refrigerator and prepare a list of missing products. Do not forget to take your list to a market and buy from it. Do not pay attention to and ignore promotions. Do not go shopping with an empty stomach  – when you are hungry, you tend to buy unnecessary products. Instead of large packaging select individual vegetables and fruit – in order to limit their quantity.

 

2.      Check „Best to”  date on packages. Pay attention to all information on packages:  read the labels, read the date of expiry, especially on easily perishable food (e.g., meat, fish).

 

3.      Control your expenses. Do not waste food and do not waste your money. When you  learn to use up all the food you buy, your groceries expenses  will decrease.

 

4.      Check the temperature in your fridge. Make sure the door always closes well and check the settings of the thermostat. Most products require  temperature of 1-5°C to preserve freshness for a long times.

 

5.      Observe recommendations on the packages.

 

6.      Place older products in the front shelf. Move older products to the front, to avoid „discovering” spoiled cheese after a few months.

 

7.      Serve small portions of dishes and encourage extras.

 

8.     Instead of throwing away rest of food products, plan ahead (see point 1): several meals  can be prepared just from one and same product. From fruit you can make a milk cocktail or bake a cake. From vegetables that are not quite fresh you can cook soup.

 

9.      Freeze. At best you should eat fresh  products, but if is impossible, freeze. You can freeze a loaf of bread and ready meals and use them one by one at different occasions.

 

10.  Compost. This is a solution for owners of gardens. An excellent way is household composts. Collect vegetable and fruit peelings in a separate basket, e.g. in your garden. Let them ferment naturally . You can treat pot plants with this compost [6]. 

Quote for today

Eliminate stress (…) elimination of stress is equal to the process of recovery. (s. 50)
Diet and health (…) do not stick to a strict diet – instead eat well. This will suffice zn – both for the healthy body and soul. (s. 244)
Love Only someone  filled with love lives to the fullest of live. Mind you, those in love are usually healthy Or even symptoms of diseases in them vanish. Love is the main basis of health. (s. 182)
Desires of the mind The mind always desires something it cannot achieve. The more we possess, the more we feel deprived. (s. 287)
Consciousness and health The body without consciousness is healthy.  Healthy consciousness transfers the disease to the body. (s. 262)
Care for the present time The past does not hide anything interesting. Release yourself from it and live in the present time. (s. 304)
Rationality in work Work is well done when you do not feel exhausted with it after its completion (s. 117)
Power of the mind We are not aware of the power of our minds, of our capabilities and that it needs only little will power to use them. All you have to do is use principle of concentration of power, i.e. learn how to distinguish import ant matters from trivial ones and  do not seek  problems where they do not exist. (s. 72)
Your body weight depends on your mind The mind is a key to solving the problem of obesity (or anorexia). (...) You will not be able to control your diet, overeating  (or anorexia), unless you are able to control the state of your mind. (s. 294)
Happiness Happiness is the  state of consciousness that can occur only during the processing of complex information. Thus, you wahe to develop your spirit and your senses – in  this way we can earn more possibilities to feel happiness. (s. 39)

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Unimaginable: The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds deals with the unusual power of the mind. The fundamental motive of this book is trust in power and capabilities of the human mind in combating diseases, stress and worries.

Książka Niewyobrażalne. Potęga i paradoksy naszych umysłów