Sunday, 24 February 2013

Think.Eat.Save - The UN Environment Programme

                                   (picture from

Reports differ – but it is estimated that world wide from 30% - 50% of food is wasted (Smithers, 2013).  According to the Wall Street Journal waste occurs from the beginning of the food process.  Farmers are unable to put slightly damaged or imperfect food in for sale to the general public as the supermarkets and apparently their customers don’t like it (Patterson, 2012).  Supermarkets go on to waste 50% of produce (Smith, 2013), which is then wasted by individual households that chuck a third of the food that comes into their home (Wall Street Journal, 2010). Now it’s been thought about, food waste starts right from where the food is picked to the people that pay money for food to throw away – whether in a restaurant or at home.   What can be done about this?

Changing the way we buy food and where we buy food can make a difference.  Personally I have tried to cut down on buying in supermarkets as I think they treat farmers unfairly.  Buying direct from a farmers market is now my preferred method of food shopping.   Shopping at the farmers market is a dream – I look forward to going to the farmers market and having a good old chat whilst paying reasonable prices for organic fairly traded food.  Thinking about what I eat and planning a weekly shopping list is the important part here – it means that minimal waste comes out of our house  (although I usually make a vegetable soup or put leftover vegetables in the compost) and I can feel relatively guilt free about the food I am buying.  Shopping at local markets or farmers markets (or even trying to grow food in your garden) along with planning food could make a big difference to individual waste on food.     

Trying to get supermarkets to change their policy could help too.  By shopping at farmers markets and avoiding using shops that have a negative effect on food waste and production is already a good ploy to get supermarkets to change their ways.  But, writing to them and asking them to change their practise could help too. has lot’s of further information on supermarkets and what malpractices they could improve on.

Contacting governments and local MPs to help create a change could help too. Current government policies on food especially that food is allowed to be on the stock exchange needs to be reconsidered – have a look at the World Development Movement page on food speculation for more information.  If governments made a change to free market policy and started to moderate or ban certain items on the stock exchange – such as food, we could be on track to creating a fairly stocked global food market.  Government backed initiatives for reducing supermarket waste and allowing food that would usually be thrown away to be given to those in need, such as the homeless could really make a difference too.

If the public in more developed countries made the effort to really think about what they eat and make changes on a personal, local and global level through rallying against food waste, food waste could be saved.   In turn money will be saved and hopefully could be put to good use helping those starving to death.  World environment day is on 5 March 2013 - join the UNEP in making a change!!    


Patterson, O. (2012) Defra, UK - Owen Paterson’s speech at the Women’s Institute food security event [online]. Available from: (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Smith, J. (2013) Half of the world’s food is thrown away? Come on, supermarkets: give us ‘imperfection’ [online]. Available from: (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Smithers, R. (2013) Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds;  Environment; [online]. Available from: (Accessed 24 February 2013).

Wall Street Journal (2010) Throwing Away Our Food. Wall Street Journal. [online]. Available from: (Accessed 24 February 2013).

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