We are told that South Africa generates an estimated 12.6 million tonnes of food waste and loss every year. This amounts to a third of the food that is available. Every tonne of edible surplus food could make an estimated 4,000 meals.
However, statistics vary on the number of people going hungry every day in our country. Nic Spaull and Mark Tomlinson stated “2.5 million adults and 600,000 children were experiencing perpetual hunger, hunger every day or almost every day”. (Daily Maverick, May 2021) So food waste and loss is appalling.
Apart from that, it is a shocking waste of resources such as energy and water.
How can we minimise food waste along the value chain?
- Grow your own: smallholders who grow their own vegetables and fruit can limit the number of items planted and are eating more healthily;
- Eat food that is in season: food that is imported or which has been kept in cold storage has a larger carbon footprint;
- Buy the deformed carrot: a carrot that is not perfectly straight will lie on the supermarket shelf, yet it is just as nutritious as the straight ones;
- Chop your own vegetables: pre-processed produce does not last nearly as long as veg that you peel and cut up yourself ~ plus the peels can go into your compost heap;
- Eat local: check the label, as the country of origin must be stated. Do not be misled by “packaged in South Africa”, as that’s not the same as “produced in South Africa”.
- Best-before, sell-by and use-by dates: Best-before dates are about food quality and taste, not safety. Use-by dates are about food safety, especially once you’ve opened the package. Highly perishable foods such as meat products and dairy pose a food safety risk if consumed after their use-by date. Dispose of these foodstuffs to avoid the possible threat of food poisoning. It is illegal to sell or donate perishable foods that are past their use-by date.
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