Too precious for the bin

People love food – not only to get enough of the energy our bodies need, but also because it’s often a social event; we celebrate with food and it’s simply delicious. So it’s quite a surprise that one-third of the food in the world doesn’t make it to our plates. That amounts to an incredible 1.3 billion tons of food! This amount of food could feed around 3 billion people each year. That exceeds the number of all the hungry people worldwide by nearly 4 times! Can you guess what we waste the most?

It's a long way from farm to fork

How is it possible that we waste so much? To answer that, we need to look at the whole food supply chain. You see, when we talk about food waste, we don’t only mean what we, consumers, throw away, but also what stores don’t sell and then discard; what restaurants and hotels waste and what manufacturers and farmers lose along the way. There is also a difference in wastage between industrialized and developing countries. People in rich countries waste an average of 95-115 kg of food per person each year, whereas in poorer countries only an average of 8-11 kg per person is wasted annually.






Hidden resources - the food waste iceberg

Even more surprising, however, is that we are not only throwing away 1.3 billion tons of food, but with it also an enormous amount of water, land, and energy. “How is that possible?” you ask. All we need to do is think about how our food is actually produced. Remember the food supply chain above? The very beginning is on a farm, right? That’s where the land and water comes from. All the fertilizers, machinery, and transport then show where the energy is hidden. So when we are throwing away food, we are also throwing away all the resources that were needed to produce the food! Just like the proverbial tip of an iceberg – the biggest part of the problem is hidden from our sight!

Hunger in a time of waste

But there are more hidden connections to food waste. A lot of our food is produced in countries where the people don’t have enough to eat themselves. For example, most of the green beans for the EU market are produced in Kenya. This is a country where water is scarce and because of the bean farms many people and schools do not have access to water. It is particularly sad to realize that such precious resources are also wasted when we throw food away. Even more incredible is that wasting occurs in industrialized countries that account for only 15% of the world population but consume a majority of the world’s resources, especially from developing countries.

Be a magician in the kitchen

What’s the best solution to food waste and all its impacts on the environment, climate and people around the world? You might have guessed it: simply not to waste! At home, waste mostly occurs because we don’t store food properly or because we are confused by the various expiration date labels. Another big reason is that we put too much on our plates and are not able to finish it all. All we need to know are a few tricks and we can make food waste disappear!
View tips on storing food

The food waste pyramid

It’s not always possible to prevent food waste from happening, so if it does occur, then the best is to try and make use of it. There is something called a food waste pyramid showing how best to dispose of food that would otherwise be thrown into the bin. By reusing food in various ways we can save the world’s precious natural resources. Farmers, restaurants and supermarkets can give what they don’t sell to food banks. And did you know that food waste can be used to make super fertile soil or to generate electricity?
More ideas for food savers

Reduce food waste
Feed people in need
Feed livestock
Compost & 100% renewable energy

Food bank


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European Year for Development
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