According to United Nation’s FAO study, approximately one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted and never makes it to a human stomach. The total amount estimated at 1.3 billion metric tons, that’s a huge number, every year globally. In low income countries, food waste occurs primarily in the pre-consumer stage. That is during harvest, after harvest, during the transportation, storage, handling and processing, because they lack facilities and infrastructure.
However, in high-income countries it is a totally different story as most of the food waste occurs actually near the end of the food supply chain, mainly because of aesthetics and standards that is at the consumer level.
Why do we waste so much food? Food waste is a very complex issue. There are social and cultural reasons, awareness and consumer issues, economic issues and there are moral issues.
Economics of Food waste
Engel’s law is an observation in economics stating that as income rises, the proportion of income spent on food falls, even if absolute expenditure on food rises. In other words, the income elasticity of demand of food is between 0 and 1. The law was named after the statistician Ernst Engel (1821–1896).
Engel’s law however does not imply that food spending remains unchanged as income increases: It suggests that consumers increase their expenditures for food products in percentage terms less than their increases in income. But this is not true in some developing countries. The more we earn, the more we spend; we spend on importing luxurious/exotic foods that can be produced locally if we look inward.
Before you waste that food please think of the environmental issues and the resources cost associated with it.
We simply think the food comes from the grocery store and that we don’t give it much thought.
To produce food: you plant, irrigate, and you use water. You fertilize, use nutrients, and you use agrochemicals as pest control. You cultivate, which takes time and labor, you use machinery, and energy, even after the harvest of the primary crops. And for animal production, you manufacture feed and make this feed available for the animals, you milk the cows and you finally slaughter the cow, and then process the food for humans… So all these food production processes takes resources and energy which risk a chance of being wasted if not consumed.
So you want to ask why food wastage and why do we throw away food? But it happens in our everyday life!
We also waste food because of lack of planning or poor planning. When we shop, we see a good sale, or when we see something really appealing we grab it without a food plan or meal plan for the week, all right!!! Then we get home, change out and in a way, get busy as busy people, food left in the refrigerator and forgot about. Or the leftovers after a few days, you don’t want to eat it anymore. What next? You dump it out.
So, we waste food for different reasons. Is it a hopeless situation? No, it’s not. What we need to do is education and public campaign to reach consumers.
It is up to all of us to raise the awareness. Together we can achieve this; towards a food secured and a sustainable world.