What if someone told you that 58 per cent of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted? Or that 42 per cent of all food produced in Canada never makes it to market? It is a curious paradox that a country that wastes so much food also has four million people who struggle to access healthy food.
Last week, Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, released The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste (see full report at https://secondharvest.ca/research/the-avoidable-crisis-of-food-waste/). First of its kind, authors of this report worked with the food industry to measure food waste from the farm to your plate. Following each step in the chain— production, handling/storage, processing, distribution/retail and finally, consumption— the study provides baseline data on the size and scale of Canada’s food waste crisis.
Part of the problem, cited in the report, is that the true cost of food loss and waste, such as environmental impacts, is not being internalized by industry and consumers. We have made it cheaper, easier and acceptable to throw food away. The report offers a timeline of achievable solutions for industry, government and consumers to rescue and redistribute surplus food, and to stop food loss and waste at its source.
Some examples include:
• Change product dating practices to correlate with food safety (Yes, you can buy expiring dairy!)
• Standardize procedures to reduce the cost and complexity of donating food (make donating food cheaper and easier)
• Educate food industry on the Food Donation and Good Samaritan Act, protecting businesses from liability when donating food in good faith.
• Change consumer esthetic expectations (learn to like “imperfect” fruits and vegetables!)
The Walmart Foundation was a key funder of this research, and it would be lovely to see Walmart Corporation take a leading role in engaging in solutions.
If you are a local business, restaurant or market that is throwing away edible food, Second Harvest has developed FoodRescue.ca, an online platform that connects food donors with non-profit partners.