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Food waste is a major problem. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN estimates we waste a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food globally each year, approximately a third of all food produced.
With millions of people around the globe suffering hunger and food insecurity, it is criminal that we, as a society, waste so much perfectly good food. Additionally, food waste is hugely damaging to our environment. If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China and the USA.
Everyone can contribute to reducing food waste. Helpling provides six really simple tips we can all follow to cut out waste. But as growers, we are in a position where we have more control over how our food gets from seed to plate. By choosing to grow our own produce, we are already contributing to the fight against food waste.
How? Well, by growing fruit and vegetables at home, we are significantly reducing the environmental impact of our meals. As above, one of the most damaging aspects of food waste is its carbon footprint. The emissions from the process which culminates in the food we see in the supermarkets (and that which is wasted before it even reaches the shelves) includes those from the production stage, the packaging and the delivery. There is also the massive amount of water wasted in commercial food production processes.
By growing produce at home, you can make sure everything you grow is used up. More than 30% of fruit in first word countries doesn’t make it to the supermarket shelves, simply because it doesn’t meet certain aesthetic criteria, even if it is completely edible. Good kitchen gardeners know even the ‘ugly’ fruits taste just as good!
As certain vegetables can be re-grown from scraps, many home-growers will be using the leftovers of their produce to grow the next batch, further cutting down on waste. Governments and administrators in countries around the world are taking action to reduce the amount of food that ends up on a landfill, but there are many households that still do not recycle food waste.
What more can we do to tackle this food waste issue?
If you grow more produce than you need, give the surplus away to friends and family. Not many people will turn down delicious and fresh homegrown fruit and vegetables. And you never know; you may even inspire them to become kitchen gardeners themselves. Alternatively, you could get in touch with a local food bank or charity that fights issues like poverty and food insecurity to see if they can use your surplus.
You should always keep a close eye on the amount of food you grow. If you regularly have more produce than you can eat or give away, simply grow less. Or try growing something different instead, so you have more recipes to try out. If you have a lot of a particular fruit or vegetable that is coming to the end of its life, use it to make a big batch of something easily freezable, like soup or smoothies.
So, if you need another reason to keep growing your own produce, not only are your home grown fruit and vegetables tastier, fresher, and better for the environment; you are also contributing to fight against the serious problem of food waste.