What comes after tertiary consumer food chain

#foodsaver - A third of all food ends up in the trash

From March 15th to 21st the action week #foodretter will take place, in which we want to raise awareness of the topic of food waste and its effects on the climate with various actions.

facts and figures

Every year, 12 million tons of food end up in the garbage in Germany. Half of it is thrown away in private households. Every German throws away around 75 kg of food each year. Worldwide, a third of the food produced does not end up on the plate, but in the bin. In industrialized nations the proportion is even higher. Already during cultivation, then in production, during transport and in trade, a lot of edible ends up in the garbage. That is a gigantic waste of resources, because the production of food consumes land, water and energy. So food waste has a very direct impact on the climate. Since around half of the food thrown away in private households ends up in the bin, it is up to us to take countermeasures here! And there are already ideas against the sorting out of edible food in retail and production, such as food sharing, shops for rejects and the like.

Why is so much thrown away?

Nowadays, groceries are cheaply available anytime and anywhere. And we consumers no longer have any reference to how long a cheese has to mature or how much work goes into a carrot or bread. Therefore, more is often bought than is really needed - and this excess ends up in the garbage.

The best before date also plays a bad role here, because many consumers believe that food is no longer edible after the date and prefer to throw the food away. The best before date (BBD) is a date set by the manufacturer and not a legal requirement. The manufacturer guarantees that the food will be good by this date. If it spoils before the date has expired, the customer has the right to compensation. It is therefore safer for manufacturers to set the period shorter. Most of the time, however, foods are still good for a while, sometimes even considerably longer, after the best-before date. The best-before date should not be confused with the use-by date on meat or fish. These foods should not be used after the use-by date. For all other foods, even after the best-before date has expired: look, sniff, try. If the food is inconspicuous and tastes normal, it can also be consumed without any problems

Another reason why a lot of food is thrown away is incorrect storage. What is not stored properly spoils faster. Whether potatoes in a plastic bag or toast and lettuce loosely in the refrigerator. Many younger people in particular have not learned how to store food optimally. To provide information about correct storage, we have put together an information page and created five video clips together with a nutrition expert. Click here for the video clips

Cultivation and trade

Even before the food even reaches the consumer, a lot of edible ends up in the trash. The crooked cucumber can be seen as a symbol of this. Because crooked cucumbers are more difficult to pack, the trade has given the producers the requirement that only straight cucumbers are purchased. Anything that grows crooked ends up in the trash. And that also applies to other types of vegetables and fruits. Whether it is too big, too small, crooked or the color does not correspond to the norm - what does not grow “perfectly” according to the specifications is sorted out. A major disadvantage that many consumers are not even aware of is: In the food industry, cultivation is not based on taste, aroma and nutrient content, but on standardized appearance and transport and storage capacity. The other - but actually more important - aspects fall behind.

In retail, every product must always be available. Because that's what consumers want. This is why the shelves are filled with baked goods until late in the evening and a lot ends up in the bin at the end of the day. Dairy products are often taken off the shelf and disposed of shortly before the best-before date. And fruits and vegetables have to look perfect, because nothing else will sell. The costs for this are of course planned by the trade and are paid by the consumer. That means we consumers pay for the food that is thrown away.

The cost and impact

With every purchase we consumers pay for the goods sorted out along the food chain. In addition, there are also the food thrown away in the household worth several hundred euros per household per year.

In addition to the financial costs, there is the ethical aspect of food waste. Food no longer has any value in our society. And at the same time there are people around the world who are starving. Some of them cannot afford food because prices have risen sharply due to exports to the industrialized nations.

The effects of food production and thus food waste on the climate should not be underestimated either. Growing, processing and transporting food consumes resources and causes greenhouse gas emissions. The resources are arable land, water and energy. There is also energy in the processing of food and in transport. If food is thrown away, the resources are thrown away and CO unnecessarily2 pushed out.

What can I do?

Here are a few tips to avoid throwing away less in your own household:

  • Plan well: Anyone who plans well before going shopping knows exactly what is needed for the week. This means that fewer spontaneous purchases end up in the shopping cart and fewer in the bin in the end. So, think about beforehand what should be cooked, how much is needed and make a shopping list. And resist the impulse purchases!
  • Recycle leftovers: Sometimes you stand in front of the refrigerator, see a lot of leftovers and just have no idea what to do with them. Good recipes for the leftover kitchen can be found on the Internet!

You can also find detailed information on the above points at https://www.zugutfuerdietonne.de/tipps/

And then one more thing

An ideas workshop on the topic will take place on March 15 at 6 p.m. Here we want to collect ideas and exchange ideas in order to take action against food waste. Registrations for the digital exchange are accepted by email to [email protected]

Links on the topic (the respective website operator is responsible for the content):