Waste not, want not

Over 6 000 tonnes of food are wasted every year

Tonnes of food are wasted each year in South Africa
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As a nation, we are not yet food-insecure, but at household level we are. That said, it is shocking that South Africa produces just over nine million tonnes of food waste a year. There are organisations that feed the hungry, one of which is Foodbank SA. It saves about 6 000 tonnes of food every year, which adds up to between 18 and 20 million meals a year.

According to the website BDlive: “FoodBank SA distributes food to needy South Africans, delivering between 12 million and 15 million meals a year to about 40 000 people. The organisation’s rural food banking and government relations executive, Patrick Andries, says one of the major challenges was moving into rural areas to reach the more than 11 million people who are 'food-insecure', defined by the World Health Organization as those who do not have 'sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life'."

And, according to some sources, anywhere between a third to half of the food produced in the world never makes it to a plate.

How does this make any sense? With food waste comes energy and water waste. The main reasons food waste is a problem besides the obvious, is that it contributes to landfill issues and carbon gas emissions. 

Some reasons for this relate to sell-by dates that are unreasonable to meet; storage and the transportation of foods that is not adequate; too much food being bought and then going to waste; or too much food being cooked and then spoiling.

Another big problem is that we tend to want a perfect-looking product, so a lot of bruised and badly packaged foods are wasted. Not to mention that from an agricultural perspective, farming practices are perhaps not always up to scratch and poor produce is delivered to wholesalers and retailers.

FoodBank SA is doing great work, but transporting and feeding the hungry is a costly exercise.

However, access to nutritious food is a human right and one that needs to be acknowledged as a foundation from which to mitigate hunger in poverty-stricken areas. My suggestion is for fast-food outlets, restaurants and hotels that throw away a lot of food, to do the same as FoodBank SA.

If we all made an effort to share rather than throw away profits, it would make a significant difference. If profits are being tossed, at least providing nourishment to others is a good cause.

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