Food Waste is Huge Carbon Source

July 14, 2018

Christian Science Monitor:

When Kimbal Musk and some fellow business associates hosted a conference on global food waste in 2011, seven people showed up.
So it was noteworthy when, in September, Mr. Musk, a community-focused restaurateur, shared that anecdote at Food Tank’s sold-out summit on food loss and waste in New York City.

“Now we have this extraordinary community that’s listening and working hard on this problem,” Musk told the audience and the more than 70,000 people watching via livestream.

He’s right. The “farm-to-fork” community has ballooned in recent years as the world begins to awaken to the magnitude of the food waste problem. It includes US and international government agencies, corporate producers, sustainability-focused food businesses, college start-ups, data-tracking organizations measuring progress on the issue, and households.

“We are definitely becoming more aware of the pitfalls in our general ‘culture of abundance’ and the tendency of our food system to overproduce,” says Melissa Goodall, associate director of Yale University’s office of sustainability in Connecticut. “That these programs exist and are thriving is an indication that awareness about food waste is rising.”

Annually, the world loses or wastes one-third of all food produced – $3 trillion worth, according to the United Nations. If such waste were a nation, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States.


Al Jazeera:

If you have ever thrown out food because it’s started to spoil, or left food on your plate uneaten because you were too full or didn’t like the taste of it, then you – like many others, myself included – have been guilty of food waste.

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world is lost or wasted before it ends up on the table.

Food loss is food that’s spoilt before it reaches the retail stage. Food waste is food that’s fit for consumption but not consumed and discarded.

In a world where one out of nine people goes hungry, reducing the amount of food waste can be said to be a moral imperative.

And when you factor in the greenhouse gases emitted by food that ends up in the landfill, then it becomes an issue of sustainability as well.

The World Association of Chefs Societies, or Worldchefs, is tackling this issue head-on, through Feed the Planet, a Worldchefs initiative run in partnership with Electrolux and AIESEC.

At the Worldchefs Congress in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, Chris Koetke, chairman of Feed the Planet, told an audience of chefs and culinary students, “If you can improve your bottomline through looking at food waste and improve things on the planet, why wouldn’t you?”

Feed the Planet has launched what’s called the Food Waste Challenge – a plan that encourages chefs worldwide to start measuring the amount wasted from their kitchens, and make a commitment to cut the mountain of discarded food.

“Those of us in white coats – we cook a lot of food; we use a lot of energy; we use a lot of water; we make a lot of waste,” said Koetke.

“So we have a responsibility to the larger society, to the planet, to make sure we’re doing well in each of those categories.”

ReTaste, a pop-up, not-for-profit restaurant in the Swedish capital of Stockholm takes the concept of reducing food waste one step further.

Twice a week, ReTaste serves up seven-course meals using mostly produce that would otherwise have been thrown out by supermarkets.

It’s a collaboration between two companies, Retired Hen, a food sustainability consultancy, and Pauls Kok, a restaurant.

In an on-site demonstration at the Worldchefs Congress, ReTaste chef Christopher Ekman whipped up some dishes using produce given by local supermarkets. His menu included pasta made from stale bread that had been ground down and then mixed with flour, eggs and salt.

Ruth Osborne, cofounder of Retired Hen, had a message for her audience: “You make incredible food out of premium products. And … if you use your imagination, take those skills, you can also make incredible meals out of less than premium products. And teach people that actually, they’re valuable and worth the enjoyment.”

My takeaway from Worldchefs Congress is this: we all have a part to play in reducing food waste – whether it’s finishing the food on your plate, or consuming that misshapen fruit.


9 Responses to “Food Waste is Huge Carbon Source”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    There’s not just food which is being wasted. Most of the energy supply is “rejected”:

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    “In a world where one out of nine people goes hungry, reducing the amount of food waste can be said to be a moral imperative.”

    Disagree. We do not have a food shortage problem. We have a food distribution problem.

    Reducing our food waste – and there always has been and always will be food wasted – is not going to mean that hungry people get even a morsel more.

    • John Kane Says:

      Not absolutely true but I understand the point. However I have seen one article (Toronto Star or Globe & Mail) that points out that fruit and vegetable wholesalers in Toronto tend to send “non-prefect” products to the garbage while food banks are trying to get the product donated to charity.

      On a larger note, providing better storage facilities in poorer countries would reduce food waste after harvest.

  3. cagedunn Says:

    Reblogged this on Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales and commented:
    Do I really need words to say what needs to be said? Please read … and act.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Act how?

      “If you have ever thrown out food because it’s started to spoil, or left food on your plate uneaten because you were too full or didn’t like the taste of it, then you – like many others, myself included – have been guilty…”

      That’s just buying into the usual conservative corporate/oligarch gambit of weaponized projection, turning everything back on the individual. As almost all problems are, this one is structural, and under that, psychological. If we expect this to change, we have to change things politically, because personal changes by those who care, won’t change anything except a few people’s self-satisfaction.

      We need to create a global society that’s equal enough that rich countries’ sonar and drone-armed industrial fishing fleets aren’t vacuuming up doomed* amounts of fish for fertilizer, pet food and breaded & fried artery-blocking fast food sold cheaply enough that almost anyone can overeat. We need it equal enough that even small fishing boats have the refrigeration needed to make their catch last long enough to be eaten. Tax policy may be boring, and campaigning for politicians who will vote better may be a lot of trouble compared to fretting about what’s in the fridge, but fretting and cutting back a little on already-infinitesimal individual impacts won’t get us anywhere. Political action is called for. Please act on that.

      * aka unsustainable

  4. indy222 Says:

    Back to the carbon…. seems to me that this food waste carbon is just going to be part of the fast carbon cycle anyway. I don’t see direct carbon emissions. But the indirect emissions due to inefficiency in the processing of feeding ourselves, OK – that I can see.

    But if we become more efficient and get stronger, faster, better, more productive, etc etc… that’s ultimately to our detriment on a finite planet. Jevons’ Revenge strikes again. Not to say I’m rooting for more wasted killed fish…. but you get the point.

  5. This is such an interesting post! If everyone committed themselves to reducing food waste we would significantly reduce the greenhouse gases emitted. We all have a part to play!

    I love how you have mentioned the organisations that are doing good and fighting food waste, I will definitely go and check them out. Very engaging post 🙂

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