This is an excerpt from Greening Your Community: Strategies for Engaged Citizens, published by Self-Counsel Press | Spring 2015
According to a policy brief issued in 2008 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, close to half of all food produced is wasted in transit, at grocery stores, and in our kitchens. The authors state that the food crisis we face is not one of production, but one of waste. The policy brief asks governments to reduce food waste in half by 2025. Food waste is increased as the steps to process and ship the food increases. It is also something to be aware of in your own home, at work functions, and in schools.
Another trending topic is the amount of food that is discarded due to a slight imperfection in shape, skin texture, colour, or minor bruises. Failure to meet rigid quality inspections means this perfectly edible and equally nutritious food is used for feed, dumped or tilled back into the soil. As a result, we reject an apple for not having the perfect “apple” shape. These strict aesthetic screens prevent us from eating much of the food that yields from crops, wasting precious soil, water and energy inputs. A grocer in Australia called Harris Farm Markets has reacted to this issue, launching the Imperfect Picks Campaign, which is designed to reduce food waste by selling “ugly” fruit and vegetables that might otherwise have been rejected.
Similarly, a French supermarket called Intermarche aims to change our perspective on misshapen fruit and vegetables with a campaign launched in 2014 with a mission to end food waste. The third largest supermarket chain in France, it is no small player, and their Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign has turned the tables, celebrating imperfections in food that still has quality nutrition. The campaign features posters of unattractive produce with witty slogans: Ugly Carrot: In a Soup, Who Cares, and A Hideous Orange: Makes Beautiful Juice.
The imperfect fruit and vegetables were sold at 30 percent less than their counterparts and the result was a big success. The imperfect options were a popular choice and the supermarket traffic increased overall by 24 percent.
Offering healthy, yet imperfect, fruits and vegetables can also help make quality, nutritious food more affordable to those that need it. To combat food waste, enhance food security, and affordability, we need to make room for the imperfect yields in our grocery stores and shopping baskets.
Here are some actions you can take to help prevent food waste:
– Use smart shopping rules in your household such as buying only what you need
– Manage your fridge to keep things clean, organized, and easy to manage
– Educate your kids, housemates, and friends about food waste and challenge them to reduce
– Encourage grocery stores to stock and reduce the price of imperfect fruits and vegetables
– Organize a clean plate campaign to raise awareness about food waste and encourage people to take only what they need
– Speak with your local government about food-waste-reduction policies
– Suggest to local restaurants to offer half or smaller portion options