2014 was declared “The year against food waste” by the European Union. It brought to the forefront the large amounts of food waste from farm level to our homes, and how a few simple changes in our daily habits and in the industry could make a significant difference in the use of food in the world thus help to alleviate global hunger issues.
Many articles, videos and publications came forward with facts and ideas, and changes have already begun throughout the world. For me, the year brought back memories of the beginning stages of recycling. I must admit, I’m old enough to remember a time when everything went into the garbage with no thought or remorse. It wasn’t that people we bad or uncaring back then, we just didn’t realize the effects our actions were having on our planet and all those we share it with. Through education and initiatives, we became aware of our choices and actions and today, we go through great lengths and even a little expense to recycle as much as we can all in an effort to do what’s right in the bigger picture. 2014 brought forward issues that both the consumer and food industry need to face, and changes are already starting to form.
The European Union set a goal this year to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025. In one new initiative on the retail end of the issue, in France, a large grocery chain began selling rejected produce at 30% less than the regular price. Those oddly shaped vegetables and fruits with blemishes though not appealing to the eye still taste the same once cut up. They ran a tongue in cheek campaign on “ugly” produce complete with taste testing done in the old “Pepsi challenge” style (for those old enough to remember the Pepsi challenge). The program is being tested in other parts of the world and as close to home as Calgary in the Calgary Co-op. I have been closely watching their “trial and error” process with Red Hat greenhouses, as I am hoping to introduce something similar this summer here at Roosters with greenhouses closer to home.
On the consumer end of things, one initiative started in Britain called “Love food, hate waste” organized by WRAP, the Waste and Resource Action Plan educated consumers on proper food storage, the difference between a “best before date” and an “expired on” date, using their freezers to keep food, changing shopping habits and how to use leftovers. Large companies like Uniliver have got behind the campaign and through on-line websites and videos, and backed with help from grocery stores, the campaign gained huge momentum and will be adopted by Vancouver and all 23 surrounding municipalities in 2015. Once launched, I’m hoping our town council will look into how we as a community can tap in to all the resources the program offers.
2015 has been declared “The year of soils” by the EU citing “33 percent of our global soil resources are under degradation and human pressures on soils are reaching critical limits, reducing and sometimes eliminating essential soil functions." Since so much of our food depends on soils, it is easy to understand how important it is to keep them healthy and productive. As the “slow food” and “shop local” movements continues to gain momentum all over North America and Europe I can’t help but feel very privileged about where we live. In our town known as “The Garden City” and surrounded by farming, as we share our gardening skills, develop our own local programs, work with already existing organizations like SASH, open our doors to other new organizations and teach the next generation all we can, I think the only thing standing between us and greatness is any unwillingness to change. We here have the opportunity to be world leaders in local programs that set the benchmark for communities small and large. One of the slogans the “Love food hate waste” challenges consumers with is “Do one thing differently”.
As you ponder your New Year’s resolutions for 2015 I encourage everyone to challenge themselves to do one thing differently going forward which will help reduce global food waste. Thank you for being for being my customer, my neighbor and my friend and Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones. See you at Roosters!