Let’s not waste food

Despite rising prices, every family tries to have a holiday spread, no matter how modest, as reunions and get-togethers resume with the easing of health protocols imposed because of the corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Celebrations this year are almost like those before Covid-19 and those who can afford  will certainly make sure that their tables are overflowing with traditional holiday dishes and so much more.

As much as I don’t want to be a party pooper, I think it is timely to remind everyone to reduce food wastage as they prepare for their media noche to welcome a new year. It is often said that we should think of starving people when we throw away so much uneaten food.

But we will actually be doing ourselves a favor by avoiding food wastage. Any shortages in food will also affect us. And even if the things we need are still available, we may have to pay a steep price for them. Think of rice, sugar and onion shortages.

There may also be nothing to buy, even if we have the money,  or producers are unwilling to sell as supplies become low.

Food wastage also worsens the serious problems of climate change and habitat loss leading to the extinction of species.

“A staggering one-third of all food produced globally is lost or wasted. . .,” the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in its Food Waste Index Report 2021. This was about one billion tons of wasted food each year.

The UN is calling for stronger action to end the culture of throwing out uneaten food to help address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

The UNEP report pointed out that the global food systems had a profound impact on human and planetary health as they were responsible for 70 percent of the water extracted from nature, and accounted for up to one-third of human-linked greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming or rising temperatures.

Agriculture had also been identified as the threat to 24,000 or over 86 percent of the 28,000 species at risk of extinction.

In 2019, 931 million tons of food sold to households, retailers, restaurants and other food services was wasted.

An estimated 17 percent of food available to consumers in markets, households and restaurants goes directly into the trash bin. Households are responsible for some 60 percent of that food wastage.

Research by the Food and Agriculture Organization, another UN-attached agency, found that some 14 percent of the food produced for consumption globally each year was lost between harvest and the wholesale market.

“Food loss and waste account for up to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They use up precious land and water resources for, essentially, nothing,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director.

She added, “Putting a serious dent in food loss and waste will slow climate change, protect nature and increase food security – at a time when we desperately need these things to happen.”

Up to 811 million people were affected by hunger in 2020 and some three billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet. UNEP said collaborative global action to cut food loss and waste was essential.

As we celebrate a new year and being able to see relatives and friends in person again, let us be mindful that we do not waste food. What we save may not only feed others but us, too.

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