Approximately 11% of the world’s populations don’t have enough to eat. At the same time, one third of all produced food never gets eaten.
The food waste is largest in industrialized countries in Europe and North America. If it would be collected and redistributed, it could feed all hungry people in the world. Three times over. Instead, food is trashed and so are all the resources and energy that went into producing it.
The waste accumulates at every step in the modern food production, therefore we need to involve the producers, distributors, vendors and consumers to tackle the problem. There are several recent initiatives, which try to minimize food waste: “Turning Earth” collects and uses excess food for energy production and composts, Quest Recycling Services helps for example restaurants find sustainable solutions that minimize food waste, and endfoodwastenow.org aims to raise awareness and provides tips to help consumers reduce their food garbage. Despite such efforts, over 90% of all food waste still becomes landfill, a solution that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions when the food decomposes.
The best strategy is to eat all food that is produced. In order to facilitate that, the food needs to be redistributed and made accessible for everyone. While this is hard to do on a global scale, several local initiatives have recently popped up. In Austria, chef Tobias Judmaier started Iss Mich – a catering company that cooks with local, seasonal ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away. In Germany (and Austria) foodsharing.de lets people share leftovers. This idea was further developed into “solidarity fridges” in Spain earlier this year.
Another successful food recycling effort is the UK based The Real Junk Food Project. In 2013 they started a “pay as you feel cafe” where all food served is made from rescued food waste. This concept has become very successful and spread not only throughout the UK but also to France, Germany and Australia. Watch Adam Smith’s TEDxWarwick talk in order to find out more about The Real Junk Food Project and how it has fed over 10000 people and prevented over 20 tons of food to go to waste.
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