Can reducing food waste begin with the supply chain?

"Waste not, want not" and "finish everything on your plate before you leave the table" are common phrases heard in homes across the country. Many people are very conscious about using the food they've purchased effectively, not letting things grow old, stale or rancid. Allowing good food go to waste seems like an unintelligent way to spend money and resources, especially when commodities such as water are so precious in states like California, where a lot of the food in the United States comes from.

It would behoove all of us to do our parts to ensure our refrigerators are only filled with products that are fresh or will not go bad. However, while we may stay on top of every expiration date on each individual label, there is still so much food that goes to waste in the course of the supply chain. How can we stop wasting products, time, money and other resources and get food into hungry bellies instead of landfills?

Not so appetizing

Many individuals enjoy imported food and exporting goods for profit. During the winter months, people in colder climates enjoy eating salads, pineapples, raspberries and avocados, despite the fact that these ingredients can be expensive. Many of our food products travel for miles and miles before ending up in our grocery stores.

Unfortunately, this means that there is a lot more time for fresh fruits, vegetables and uncured meats to spoil before even reaching our cities. According to Albawaba, over $3.5 billion worth of food is wasted in the United Arab Emirates every year. This does not just apply to products grown in the country, but to imported goods as well. The source also noted that the United Nations reported that 32.7 percent of the food produced on the planet goes uneaten and wasted every single year.

GreenBiz surmised that by the year 2050, when the planet has 9 billion people to feed, we will run into more problems of people going hungry or eating food that's heavily genetically modified or unhealthy. It's shocking that 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste each year, a good deal of  which occurs due to from poor supply chain practices.

Food for thought

In order to prepare ourselves for the inevitable increase of population and address the sheer wastefulness that has become a component of the supply chain, there needs to be a change in the way we approach food products. Food should not be seen as something that is disposable. It serves a purpose and is a human right, but is not accessible for all. The fact that we are all right with throwing massive quantities of food away when there are starving populations across the world doesn't bode well for the future of the planet.

Since we will not give up our luxuries of raspberries in winter and star fruits in the desert, we need to change our game. Perhaps there should be more sustainable methods for transporting food - faster, colder, more efficient - to make up for the distance between farm and fridge. Perhaps we needs to examine supply and demand needs to determine what is able to be produced and try to reconcile the numbers to eliminate waste. 

There must be a way to prevent the wastefulness that's become so commonplace in our society today. Maybe we can get to the root of the problem so the supply chain will perform to the best of its ability, delivering fresh goods to every hungry tummy.

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