There is no clear description regarding food waste in a universal matter either historically or presently, making it perplexing in definition and comparison. What is clear is that food waste continues to grow at a rapid pace with the expansion of a world population experiencing societal and agricultural developments in an era where land and other resources are becoming more limited. The increase in waste and category of foods which people throw away has transformed with time through the advancement and evolving of varying cultures.
The French labeled “Garbage” specifically as food waste and later broadened the term in applying to refuse in general. The first hunter-gatherer societies picked and killed what they needed to survive, wasting nothing more than animal bones. More than 10,000 years ago, the Neolithic-Revolution gave way to the first cultivation of crops and domestication of animals. Food supply was limited and strenuous work; consequently waste would have been non-existent and contemptible.
The first weeding, watering, collecting and seed planting farmers are traced back to roughly 8,000 B. C. The same time period included the introduction of penning animals to be slaughtered and eaten when necessary. Food became more abundant and attainable, but was hardly taken for granted or heedlessly disposed of. American Indians were known for their resourcefully respective nature in dealing with the wildlife available to them. How disheartening it must have been to witness European settlers carelessly skilling the buffalo for game and wasting its nourishing value.
When agriculture was erected, it brought more food to the table and in turn, created much more to be thrown away.Agriculture later became industrialized and waste from organic produce spiked due to the development of food processing. Most importantly, the world is forever growing and an increased population certainly means more food is distributed, eaten, and thrown away by more people. The history of food waste is considerably alarming considering its growth in recent decades, defining it as a distressingly progressive issue that ironically few too many seem to either care about or be aware of.However, the issue will require attention soon enough when addressing the 70% food production increase mandatory in feeding the estimated world population of 9. 3 billion by 2050 (United Nations, 2011).
The USDA claims that each year, 25. 9 million tons of America’s food is thrown away, the equivalent to a quarter of the total amount produced. Nationally, the wasted food is a damaging financial setback, amounting to $1 billion just to get rid of during a time of ascending food prices, nonetheless (Oliver, 2007).Food waste has skyrocketed since 1970 at an astonishing 50% increase rate, yet according to the FAO, one-sixth of America doesn’t get enough to eat. The University of Arizona’s “Garbage Project” study approximates the number closer to 50% when calculating in the 27 million tons thrown away by supermarkets, restaurants, and convenient stores alone adding up to an additional $30 billion. Retailers refuse to report their waste in compliance with company policy and food is sent to compactors where it becomes unusable and ends up in landfills.
Globally, the FAO has declared approximately one-third of the world’s entire food supply produced for consumer consumption (1. 3 billion tons) is wasted annually (Buzby & Hyman et al. , 2012). Jean C.
Buzby describes the entire lifecycle of food (including food waste) having “negative externalities that arise throughout the entire lifecycle of food and adversely impact society and the environment. ” This includes a significant impact on numerous resources such as arable land, labor, energy, fresh water, and agricultural chemicals (fertilizer).Methane gas is released from rotting food, which the EPA acknowledges as trapping 23 times as much heat as CO2, declaring it severely harmful to our environment in dispensing global emissions that effect climate change. It’s not just methane gas either; the 30 million tons of food dumped in landfills as mentioned earlier is responsible for the diminution of one-quarter of America’s freshwater supply and close to 300 million barrels of oil a year (Buzby & Hyman, 2012).
It is also important to consider the solid waste created through food production and distribution, particularly in the fast food industry.Packaging waste accounts for 93% of the industry’s total waste, yet only 29% is recovered (Aarnio, et al. , 2007). Alongside America as top food-wasting contributors, the UK and Japan throw out 30 to 40% of their food annually, ten times more than an individual does in Southeast Asia (Oliver, 2007). The Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP) reported household waste in the UK equaling 7.
2 million mt a year, 4. 4 million of which as “avoidable” (Quested & Parry, 2011).The European Commission conducted a study in 2006 concerning food waste that estimated 89 million mt of waste was produced that year, or 179 kg per capita when divided into sectors (Buzby & Hyman, 2012). The European Parliament is making efforts to reduce their food waste in designating 2014 as “European year against food waste”, with a goal of 50% deduction by 2020. Waste data is non-existent in a number of the world’s largest, fastest growing countries including Brazil, Russia, India, and China where presently a large deal of evolving is taking place also (Buzby & Hyman, 2012).The amount of food wasted when comparing industrialized and developing nations is similar, but the ways in which it’s wasted are not.
The waste of nations already industrialized is accredited to overstocking and buying, evident in the 40% loss at retail and consumer level (Thomas, 2011). The production of farmers almost always exceeds demand but is executed as a precautionary measure against crops unsuccessful in meeting extraneously artful standards such as certain color, size, or even factors minimal as blemishes.In addition, post-purchase waste is abounding due to careless planning of food use resulting in expiration, retailers selling value packed items with entirely too much included food, and restaurant portions being overwhelmingly large. Countries rich in industrial resources lay less emphasis on food management and reuse food scarcely, much like a wealthy individual may pick at his food and dispose of the majority to display social status.Consumers such as these are generally to blame among wealthy nations, but developing countries lose food because of an anemic foundation resulting in hardships for local farmers and low-income buyers paying more.
Developing countries experience the majority of waste at the post-harvest and processing level where 40% of food waste is lost in post-harvest and processing, and 25% during pre-harvest (Thomas, 2011). Countries like Somalia generate waste through means of persuasive corruption in their dealing with warlords, Cambodia because of corrupt political leadership (Thomas, 2011).Many of these countries suffer harsh droughts and are poverty stricken preventing them from investing in biosecurity. Also absent are the appropriate storage, processing, and packaging advancements used in America for freshness. Improvement in food management could instantly result in crucial assistance to poor countries in reference to food supply and security. Possible resolutions include cutting out retailers and buying directly from farmers, or the retailers themselves working with charitable groups in bringing unsold produce to those in need.
Documenting food waste would provide a general basis for the issue and in turn help raise awareness, resulting in a stronger effort for prevention and improvement. Just as important is the awareness of the consumer in regards to what expired food actually is, including food education at various levels and elucidated labeling as to when food needs to be sold by and consumed by (Buzby & Hyman, 2012). Recycling food for uses such as animal feed is a great way to reduce overall waste percentages as well.Currently, there aren’t enough facilities designed for composting food scraps, even though they outweigh the majority of other disposed materials significantly.
Food scraps recovery programs are relatively new and face numerous obstacles in establishment consisting of siting, permitting, and economic issues (Sherman, 2009). The availability of environmental resources naturally increases when waste decreases resulting in improved efficiency production and minimized food costs. The trick will be balancing production while meeting the ever changing trends of the market and demands associated with adaptive consumer diets.