Will the “lost decade” change our wasteful ways when it comes to food?

Published by Monday, January 30, 2012 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

The Hard Facts, the Numbers

Launched in 2007 by WRAP, the 'Love Food, Hate...







Now that food prices are on the rise and people in developed countries are tightening their purse strings, we are beginning what IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde refers to as the “lost decade.” We are starting to think about food waste and food budgets — not something we talked much about over the last few decades. Unless we were in finance, we watched the price of cacao, but not much else.

“The average British shopper estimates that they bin almost 10% of the food bought in their weekly shop, while 8% admit to throwing away as much as a quarter of their food on a regular basis, according to new research on Monday,” says The Guardian.

Food waste in the U.S. is even worse. According to Society of St. Andrew, a 2004 study showed that in the U.S., 40 to 50% of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten, and, even more shocking, the country spends about 1 billion dollars a year just to dispose of food waste. “In many developing countries, post-harvest losses of food grains can reach as high as 50%. Without proper storage and transportation systems, perishable food items are particularly vulnerable to spoilage and loss.”

“About one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption each year is wasted, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),” says Food Navigator-USA.

What We Can Do as Individuals

In the lost decade, we will probably stop watching the price of cacao. Chocolate will be for the rich and won’t even be part of a middle class diet. We need to mentally prepare ourselves for this change, which will mean going back to the basics, which is already a general trend in the foodie world: preserving, canning, drying. The Internet is full of rediscoveries of the old somewhat pioneer ways of preserving food, almost as if they knew hard times were coming. But there are also other approaches.

Love Food Hate Waste is a practical site full of ideas for creating new meals from leftovers or seemingly empty cupboards and getting a head start on preparing for the lost decade.

Planet Green’s “50 Ways to Never Waste Food Again” is running over with little ways to get started on your anti-food-waste campaign, ideas you might never have thought of.

Wasted Food offers loads of ideas for using leftovers and planning shopping and quantities to fit your schedule. They talk about types of shoppers: “the Hungry Hoarders, who shop on an empty stomach and buy too much. And the Ditzy Diarists, who don’t consult their “diary” (schedule book) before shopping and, as a result of their plans, can’t use the fresh foods they bring home.”

Urban and home gardening offer another way of reducing food costs. The Internet is full of advice about urban gardening, such as Urban Organic Gardener, and ordinary home and organic gardening, such as Mother Earth News.

My Slow Food philosophy and sense of mindful eating and my lifetime dedication to ecology and sustainability, and the influence of my mentor, Wendell Berry, a fellow Kentuckian, have made me ready to tackle the dark decade to come, but if you haven’t quite gotten used to the idea, the sites and articles here should get you off to a jolly good start.

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