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In recent years, food waste has come onto the list of mainstream environmental issues. It is a relatively new issue due to the advances in farming and agriculture. Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded, lost, or uneaten. The two are similar, but have key distinctions within their definitions
The causes of food waste or loss are numerous, and occur at the stages of production, processing, retailing and consumption
According to scientific estimates about one-third of the food produced globally is thrown away; and a large part of this wasted food that was thrown away can be prevented.
The over production of food is at the cost of depleting natural resources and causes pollution. Food production requires intensive use of energy and minerals that can be harmful. One such mineral is phosphate, which is used to produce fertilizers. Significant amounts of resources are squandered in vain because of food wastage.
Natural step is an active global network that is more 25 years old. It functions at the global level. It is a burgeoning movement aimed at changing habits and behaviors related to a series of food production and consumption
Consumer habits need to be changed and private companies to apply the principles of sustainability.
Some recent research has shown that most of the food waste, especially in developed countries, is specifically occurring in the consumption stage, it is at 50%. Interestingly in Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) more than 60% of solid waste is organic waste. It has a more specific name- wet waste- meaning it is food and kitchen scraps. That adds up to tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. The 40% rest of the waste is in the stages of agriculture, processing and manufacturing
Purchasing and consumption habits are the leading reasons for the presence of food in landfills. Consumers are throwing food in the garbage and not realizing the economic value the food waste. The truth is the food that has been discarded is caused by cooking disproportionate quantities of food operations, The other is packaged food . there is also a lack of information on food products for efficient refrigeration. Consumers are not aware on how to purchase of the proper amounts of food necessary for consumption and preparation.
The first step necessary to change consumer habits is the conviction that we absolutely do not want to waste food. Consumers do not know how to identify food waste as problem in their homes and they do not know preventive measures against it. Environmental organizations, institutions and government ministries like education, environment, economy, agriculture should be have an active role in education, awareness and encourage changes in production, packaging and sales methods of food products.
At the global level various methods have been developed to reduce food wastage. Some of these methods are packaging that allows for easy access to food, and with cooking instructions.
There are campaigns to persuade consumers to buy food that are less cosmetic but have the same nutrients and quality
The way that food is currently being labeled is with expiration dates. The extent and span of expiration dates should be re- thought. There should instead be a rate of atrophy or indications of spoilage on food products.
Recycling food is another part of conservation that is necessary and overlooked. Food that is not edible or expired can be used in a compost. It can also be used to produce energy like electricity and cooking gas.
Recycling and energy production does not prevent or excuse the exploitation and expenditure of natural resources.
An interesting study took place at the Norwegian University of Trondheim and was recently published in the prestigious scientific journal” Environmental Science & Technology”. It compared the environmental impacts resulting from recycling food and its use in energy production. It included waste and the prevention of food waste. Foods waste prevention in Norway has reached 17% and according to the results that are 17% of the total food marketed. Another finding of the research is that the environment is in need to control food waste. The environmental benefits are more from preventing food waste than from recycling it and using it for energy production .The diagnosis and outcomes of the study are:
· Prevent food wastage
· Cost efficiency
· Consumer education
Translated by: Kefah Abukhdeir