Why food waste matters and what you can do about it (in Parramatta !)


By Megan Hounslow:

Food waste has been making headlines for good reason in recent years. Collectively, over a third of all food produced for human consumption never makes it to our mouths! That effectively means that a third of all farms and farmers across the world used precious resources such as water, nutrients and energy, for nothing. Harsh words, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Not to mention that globally, if the greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food was a country, it would be the third biggest contributor to climate change (after China and the United States). Plus, your parents really were right when they said “think of all the hungry people out there” when you pushed your dinner around on your plate (although now we know they probs should have served you less). All in all, a pretty crappy situation.

Ok, who’s getting wasted? Ermturns out us

And guess who the biggest food wasters are? Surprise surprise, it’s industrialised nations. In Australia, we throw away around 20% of our food, which translates to over a grand a year – we don’t even want to know how many coffees this could have translated to. The worst bit? Young people aged 18-24 are one of the most wasteful groups (gulp).

You might be screwing your face up in indignation at that figure right now, thinking something along the lines of ‘Oh I surely can’t waste that much!’. I challenge you to go right now (or when you get home) and rummage through your bin (yes!). It’s actually quite interesting/surprising/stinky/shocking at the amount of food that we throw into our bins everyday. In my own bin, which I gingerly pawed through, I found mostly food packaging, along with the remaining quarter can of baked beans, a small amount of fetta, and some oily-tuna dregs. To be fair though, we compost a lot of our food scraps, I’ve been a food waste nazi for some time, and I have a teenage brother. So not much is wasted in this household.

So how do we manage to rack up so much food waste?

Studies have shown that often because of the abundance and availability of food, coupled with decreasing prices and a general lack of  knowledge, food waste has become ‘normalised’. In the average Australian household food comprises 40% of our bin’s content. Often food is wasted because we just don’t know what to do with it. Bought on a whim (‘it was on special!’), we only used part of it, so it sits in our fridge/pantry, waiting for us to eat it, as it slowly wilts or succumbs to the hairy scourge of mould. The story of the baked beans that ended up my bin started like this: my dad had a little for lunch one day. He and mum used up a bit more of it the day after. But then the last little bit got shoved back into the fridge and forgotten about, before it was ‘found’ a week later and with a whiff from mum was swiftly thrown into the bin. It probably wasn’t safe anymore to eat, but it could have been if it was frozen or repurposed, before it got gory.

What are we all doing about it?

There’s so much do’s-and-don’ts out there it can sure get confusing sometimes on just what can we do! Instead of being spoon-fed solutions, it’s time to take ownership of our food and give food waste the flick by our own innovative selves. But where to start? Enter SpoonLed . Youth Food Movement Australia’s latest event series SpoonLed aims to break down food waste in a positive and social way. Each attendee brings a friend, and will pick up mad food hacks inspired by interviews with Australian food legends, from Black Star Pastry’s Christopher Thé to Darren Robertson of Three Blue Ducks, and Gourmet Traveller’s chief restaurant critic, Pat Nourse. Aside from getting hands deep in food hacks, each attendee and their friend will host their own “Teaspoon” party or event. “It’s an open invitation to lead the change, put on a killer dinner party and be a protector of produce at the same time,” says Helena Rosebery, creative director of the events. Keen as a bean to be a Spoon leader? SpoonLed will be at Parramatta on Saturday 9th April at the ICE centre. The Sydney events sold out so get your mitts on them at Spoonled.com If you’re looking for a crew who care about food as much as you do on campus, join the Western Sydneychapter of Youth Food Movement  as a volunteer for more ongoing opportunities to lead the change.

Visit http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/gws-chapter/ for more.

main title image: Kit Baker

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