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Back to Symposium 2015

Food waste concerns all of us

Ralph C. Martin Ralph C. Martin, PhD, P.Ag.

University of Guelph, Ontario

With over 7 billion people on the globe today, and an expected 9 billion by 2050, some predict that food production must increase by 70-100%. However, it may be possible to mitigate production requirements by assessing what types of healthy food will reduce health costs and also improve resilience in production systems. Furthermore, given that ~40% of food is wasted, there are opportunities to produce less food, with more emphasis on higher quality food that is not wasted.

Households account for ~50% of the food that is wasted along the value chain. In a recent Canadian study, about 1/3 of food waste at the curb was unavoidable while the remainder was avoidable or possibly avoidable. About half the food waste was fruit and vegetables and the lowest proportion was dairy and eggs, although curb audits do not assess disposal in sinks nor in toilets.

Reduction is the first principle of addressing food waste, followed by making food, at risk of being wasted, available to people and then to livestock.

Reducing food waste is supported by all main religions and is accomplished by: being aware of food and its value, planning ahead, using left-overs and preserving.

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