In all the talk about food – its price, its value, our disconnection from it – more needs to be said about how much we waste in the Western world. We’re all bad: Canada, the US (a 2004 study found about half its food was wasted), but the UK is being studied more closely than others, thanks to WRAP which released an updated report this month that details food and drink wastage in Britain.
We’ve heard a lot about how our expenditures on food have declined over the past forty years; little has been said about the scale of our waste, which according to Statistics Canada’s latest figures currently amounts to just about 30% in this country:
Canadians are not only spending more on food, but they are also buying more calories. Between 1976 and 2007 the number of calories available per person increased 9% from 3,118 to 3,384 kilocalories. Some of this food however is wasted, and it is estimated that in 2007 only 71% of the calories purchased were consumed. Food that was not consumed includes waste or spoilage in stores, households, institutions and restaurants, and losses during preparation.
Some interesting figures from elsewhere in this chart of per capita expenditure on food worldwide.
Here’s a good piece on salvaging the dregs of liquids.
And another that explains how to make better food choices by understanding the fertilizer and pesticide load required by the produce you use. For example, compare bananas and beans – even before you get into transportation, bananas require 427 pounds of environmentally hazardous fertilizers per acre, compared with just 35 pounds for peas or beans.
Meanwhile, the Farm Food Freedom Fighters are asking British Columbians to write letters to try to change provincial regulations that are crippling small producers; the focus is meat production but the FFFF are battling other issues, like Monsantism of our food supply. Here’s the pitch:
Please ask that farmers be permitted to sell healthy animals from their farm gates, without trauma, fossil fuels, time and extra cost, and without the increased threat of contamination that a visit to a government inspected facility can bring. Point out the lack of legal slaughter options for many farmers, and the cascading impacts (farm supply stores, feed sales including hay, impacts on farm tax status, food security, local jobs) this has on rural communities.
Please write to our Premier Hon. Gordon Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
or Room 156, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC V8V 1X4
or Ida Chong, who is holding the meat regulation potato right now –
Hon. Ida Chong
Minister of Healthy Living and Sport
P.O. Box 9062 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
or our Agriculture man,
Hon. Steve Thomson
Minister of Agriculture and Lands
P.O. Box 9043 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2