Wasting food

Wasting food

Wasting Food is a booklet on the problem of food waste – its many faces, what science tells, the philosophical and ethical implications, the theological meanings, and the way forward with practical, simple, and sensible measures that can be taken.

During the third International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on 29 September 2022, a call to action to reduce food loss and food waste through a global virtual event was organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP). The deteriorating global food security and nutrition is further challenged by the impact of the pandemic, the climate crisis, and the war in Ukraine.

FAO described how food is lost and wasted in many ways. Fresh produce that deviates from what is considered optimal, including in terms of shape, size and colour, is often removed from the supply chain during sorting operations. Foods that are close to, at or beyond the “best-before” date are often discarded by retailers and consumers. Large quantities of wholesome edible food are often unused or left over and discarded from household kitchens and eating establishments.

The food journey from dining tables to garbage bins (if uneaten) does not take place in an isolation. Wasting food affects people’s lives – those who go hungry and those who are poisoned by what is thrown away. And apart from the social and economic impact, wasting food contributes to global warming as “estimates suggest that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed,” according to the 2021 UNEP Food Waste Index Report.

The authors conclude that the world needs “a reformulation of the functioning of the food system based on more localized food systems, with a new food culture of consuming more local, organic and seasonal products, with shorter marketing circuits between production and consumption, and more resilient agroecology-based production systems, which, according to experts, could contribute to reducing food waste in cities and in the countryside.”

Authors José Carlos Romero Mora and Jaime Tatay Nieto SJ are members of the Higher Education for Social Transformation Project (HEST, promoted by the Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Europe (JCEP) and the Kircher Network. The booklet Wasting Food was launched in June 2022 and is available here.

For those in the EU, the EU Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub is a one-stop-shop for stakeholders active in the area of food loss and waste prevention and reduction and strives to build a community of experts and practitioners working towards the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 Target to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains.

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