Last week I attended a screening of the movie Just eat it at The Joinery. This film raises important issues about the level of food being wasted at every step of production from the grower to the shops and then the consumer and the massive impacts this has on our planet. I have heard previously that people suffering from lack of food in some countries is not due to the scarcity of food but rather the poor distribution of food across the globe.
This film corroborates this view. It also highlights how the food we send to landfill contributes to global warming. As food decomposes in anaerobic conditions it produces methane which traps heat in the atmosphere much more efficiently than carbon dioxide!
Its worth noting that last year France passed a law banning French supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. The law requires the supermarkets to donate it to charities or for animal feed.
The following flyer from the Adelaide Natural Resource Centre gives a good overview of some of the issues around food waste and how you can reduce your waste:
Food in Australia
We see food everywhere, between popular cooking shows on TV, our local farmers’ markets and an abundance of food snaps on social media, it’s clear that Australians love food.
However, Australians also throw away up to 20% of food they buy (that’s one out of every five shopping bags purchased!) . This is an estimated $8-10 billion worth of edible food and 4 million tonnes of food waste .
We are wasting a third of the world’s food supply , while people go hungry and vulnerable habitats are cleared to grow more food. In addition to habitat loss, greenhouse gas emissions also come from growing food that is never eaten or rotting in landfill.
Wasting food has a significant impact on our natural resources too. When we waste food, we also waste the resources used to grow our food (water, soils and energy) and all the energy used to process, package and transport food from markets to our homes.
Awareness of our food choices creates change. Simple plans can make an enormous difference.
As a community of people who love food, there are a number of actions that we can take to help.
12 simple steps 
- Take stock: Know what you have and plan meals based on your inventory. Make your shopping list pre shop.
- Stick to your list: It’s a costly waste if you don’t consume what you buy, even if it is on special! Will you really eat that?
- Buy funny-looking produce: It tastes just as good and saves food that might be wasted because the size, shape, or colour are not “right”.
- Practice FIFO (First in First Out): Organize newest groceries at the back, oldest in the front.
- Prioritize perishables: Have a section in your fridge for food that needs to be consumed ASAP.
- Keep it fresh: refrigerate between 1-5 degrees C, use airtight containers.
- Preserve it: If the clock is ticking, freeze it, can it, dry it, or dehydrate it.
- Understand labels: use by and best before dates are not ‘expiry’ dates or ultimatums! They only indicate peak freshness.
- Get creative: Soups, stews, and smoothies are great “use it up” options.
- Use it all: Only toss non-edible parts of produce and spatula out containers.
At the table
- Put less on your plate: eat family style (shared serving bowls) or ask for smaller portions.
- Save it for later: Take it to go. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers (and remember to eat them). Date and label items in transparent containers to avoid mystery meals.
If it cannot be consumed by you
- Share it! Have a friend over for a meal
- Feed it to an animal/pet
- Compost it.
Sources and further reading
-  NSW EPA Food waste avoidance benchmark study (2009).
-  ABS Australian Social Trends (2007), Hyder Consulting (2009), Australian DEWHA National Waste Report (2010), Australian DSEWPaC National Food Waste Assessment (2011), NSW EPA Food waste avoidance benchmark study (2009), Encycle Consulting (2013), Baker D, Fear J, Denniss R. What a waste: an analysis of household expenditure on food, The Australia Institute 2009. OzHarvest (downloaded Nov 2015) http://thinkeatsave.ozharvest.org/eventscreen/show/1128
-  Global Food Losses and Food Waste Report– Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Rome (2011). http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e.pdf
-  www.foodwastemovie.com/food-waste-tips/
- 24 TED talks that will save the food system: http://foodtank.com/news/2015/02/twenty-four-ted-talks-that-will-help-save-the-food-system
- Do Something! FoodWise http://www.foodwise.com.au
- Food Alliance (VIC) http://www.foodalliance.org.au/article/food-waste
- Food Know How (VIC) http://www.foodknowhow.org.au
- LOVE FOOD hate waste (VIC) www.lovefoodhatewaste.vic.gov.au
- Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB) http://www.kesab.asn.au
- OzHarvest www.ozharvest.org
- Stuart, Tristram (2009). Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. Penguin Publisher.