Agriculture is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing to global heating and climate extremes that directly impact food security. The FAO reports that more than 80 percent of the total damage and losses in agriculture are caused by drought. The same report shows an increase in world hunger since 2015, bringing us back to a decade ago.
At the same time, one third of all food produced, ends up wasted. 1.3 billion tons of food every year, which is more than enough to feed every hungry person on Earth, is dumped- along with the roughly US$1 trillion which was invested in its production.
Food waste reduction initiatives have started gaining momentum the past few years, ranging from activism to zero-waste practices in high-end restaurants. Denmark has reduced its food waste by 25% in the past few years. This was thanks to the ground-breaking work of Selina Juul and the StopWastingFood organization, which was embraced and reinforced by the Danish government and the public. The French Ministry of Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development has enforced legislation to require from all businesses that they recycle their organic waste, when they produce more than 10 tonnes per year. Supermarkets are not allowed to dump unsold food-instead, they are required to sign donation contracts with non-profit organizations.
In the professional kitchen front, where the global fine-dining norm is a whopping 65% of the ingredients going to waste, chefs are launching sustainable restaurants and social enterprise initiatives. From Britain, to Italy, to Sweden and across the Atlantic, talented chefs use their creativity to make dishes from ingredients that would otherwise get wasted, and donate time and meals for people in need. In Peru, chef Palmiro Ocampo run a television show to tech viewers how to use food scraps and leftovers to make new meals.
In the home front, especially with all the holiday extravaganza, we can simply not buy more than we actually need. We can get inspired by the chef’s creative ideas to make clever use of our ingredients. And, in the spirit of the days, we can share with people who need it the most.