While close to 870 million people are starving in the world, a third of the food produced is wasted daily, which equals 1.3 billion tons per year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
These alarming figures alone reveal an enormous contradiction of our times, but together with this data, however, there is a series of built-in waste that further obscure the global scenario. This food production and distribution chain requires water, land, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, electricity, and fossil fuels. And when the food goes to waste, it takes with it all these resources that were used and caused environmental impacts that can be irreversible.
On September 29, chosen by the UN to be the International Day of Awareness on the Loss and Waste of Food, we point out some simple actions that can contribute to less food being wasted daily.
Avoiding waste in the Roraima Humanitarian Mission
In the Nova Canaã Shelter, under management of the Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FIHF), the Food Committee, that receives the food from the company under contract to the army, daily carries out a careful work in the distribution of the food so that there is not any waste, and the excess is used for morning and afternoon snacks.
Elisabete Soares, who has already carried out the coordination support task in the Nova Canaã Shelter and also contributed to the activity of control of the distribution of food, explains that “orange juice, fruit salad, cream, and banana ice cream are prepared, and sometimes, when there is meat left over, a soup is made.”
This simple work, besides avoiding waste, also contributes to the nutritional reinforcement of children, pregnant women, the elderly, lactating mothers, and sick people.
Changing habits: a small revolution is possible
As individuals, how can we avoid the waste of food in our homes, in our daily routine? What habits can we include in our daily life to minimize this waste?
Jacqueline Souza, collaborator of the Light-Community of Figueira, shows us some simple changes of habits in daily life that can contribute to diminishing waste in the household budget and also help to reduce the environmental impact.
Choose food in season, because these are of better quality, last longer, have greater nutritional content, and less amounts of pesticides, besides having more accessible prices. “Food produced outside of its natural cycle is done in an aggressive way, using a large volume of chemical fertilizers and is genetically modified to guarantee their production during the whole year,” warns Jacqueline.
Do not allow yourself to be carried away by appearances
“Be wary. The prettier, shinier, and bigger the food, the more ‘problematic’ it will be,” Jacqueline lets us know. “Peppers, tomatoes, and very bright and showy vegetables are usually the ones that take the most fungicides and other chemical processes to kill the caterpillars and other ‘bugs’.” Jacqueline suggests buying those smaller foods with a less uniform appearance, because “these are the most natural and organic.”
Care at Home: avoiding waste
“It is very important, when arriving home, to put the produce to soak in vinegar or bleach at 1%, as it helps to reduce the amount of pesticides. It doesn’t eliminate them, but it reduces the excess,” explains Jacqueline.
Tubers should be washed and dried with a cloth and can be kept in a fresh natural environment; they do not need to be kept exclusively in the refrigerator. In a natural environment, they tend to remain better preserved. Leafy vegetables should only be washed just before consumption, as the leaves don’t deteriorate as quickly. “It’s good to keep them in a plastic bag, well sealed, without air. They should be placed at the bottom of the refrigerator, where it is less cold, so the leaves don’t burn.”
Quick and creative recipes
“Here in the community we don’t waste anything; we can take advantage of many things, such as the leaves and stems of vegetables and legumes, which are rich in nutrients, for hot soups, rice risottos and pies,” she suggests
The left-overs from lunch can become delicious soups at supper. Just liquefy everything in the blender, add spices, stalks, legumes or leaves to taste and dinner is guaranteed.
Stalks and leaves of radish, beets, carrots or cabbage can be used in a farofa (toasted manioc flour mixture) of green banana. Just sauté them with the seasonings of your choice, add the flour, and there you have it, a healthy farofa.
A more aware world
It’s necessary to broaden the understanding and reinforce the action of all the sectors of society in relation to the waste of food, in the sense of reducing loss and waste in the whole production and consumption chain, which will help to reduce problems that cause environmental, economic, social and food security impacts, the solutions for which can represent significant gains for the planet and the Kingdoms of Nature.