Let’s not just talk about food waste!
According to a survey carried out by FAO, we waste 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide, annually, with an average family throwing away 150 kilograms of food every year. Its is enough look inside the garbage containers of shops, restaurants to be facing a shocking view. Piles of food, often untouched, an army of unopened packages lies among the waste. But what does the EU, Hungary and a few activists do for this cause?
Hungarian and EU intitiations
The European Union has announced it’s projects regarding minimalizing food waste in 2012, called FUSIONS. The projects is built up of seven ideas in connection with social innovation as a preparation to practical solutions. 13 countries participate in the four-year plan, with 21 partner organizations, including the Hungarian Food Bank Assotiation. The main aim is to map the problems of food waste and carry out feasibility studies. The plans include providing the needy with the excess food through the internet and organizing events relating community food management. There have been numerous intitiations regarding food waste in Europe in the past too and FUSIONS was born by mixing these ideas and experiences. The seven projects aims to deal with providing education in connection with the waste of school canteens, opening „social supermarkets” and preventing food waste. There are several research institutes, charity organizations, edicational institutions, and non-profit organizations participating. With the help of the programs the European Comission would like to limit food waste by 50 per cent until 2020.
The Hungarian Food Bank Assotiation is working on a project with the dutch University of Wageningen to deal with food waste coming from catering businesses and to build connections between the program’s coordinators and hospitality businesses. Several universities, consumer organizations and companies take part in Hungary to carry out researches and to launch the social innovation pilot project. They also make national and EU proposals for regulations. Their main goal is to distribute excess food with the help of charity organizations. This part of FUSIONS aims at a huge, untouched market, since distributing excess food is a task, not many have tackled before.
Dinner menu from the trash
Others draw attention to food waste in their unique way. The french baptiste Dubanchet for example had decided to cycle around Europe and only eat from the trash during his trip. He went on the trip with ony one backpack to exclusively consume food thrown away by supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants. His project, „La faim du monde” (hunger of the world) has turned attention to how wasteful European society is and how many tons of usable food we waste daily.
He has cycled 4000 kilometers in three months from France, through Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Check Republic, to Poland. The keep his ecological footprint as small as possible he only used bike as transport the whole way. This has been really exhausting so his first thing when reaching every city, was to visit the local supermarket’s garbage bin. He never had to starve though! On his blog, he tells sometimes he had hard time deciding which food to take. Instead of sweet treats he took healthy, energy-packed, long-lasting food to put in his backpack. For accomodation he maily used couchsurfing and once one of his host accompanied him during his food hunting trip.
While there are 800 million people starving globally, in Europe we usually throw food away only because the package is damaged or there is an irrelevant expiry date on it. Wasting is not simply an ethical problem. The food that finally becomes superfluous had required tons of soil and ecologically damaging pesticides. Germany has a great history of being eco-friendly. baptiste tells on his blog that he could convince several supermarket managers about his project and they gave him the excess food. However several companies follow strict regulations and employees cannot gift or take home anything. Even when there is nothing wrong with the food itself.
Apart from the needy, several activists and those who refuse to overconsume dive into bins. They call attention to how much food we waste unnecessarily. However this can’t reach long term goals. We should encourage people to avoid wasting altogether.
What are doing against food waste?
Translator: Anna Kőszegi
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