Food Waste: Definition and Understanding

Food Loss

We all know wasting is bad, especially when it comes to money and time, however, we often forget that we are wasting other things that can cause significant consequences in the future. I am talking about food waste. Yes, food waste can have extreme consequences, in fact, we are already facing some of the consequences right now. Food waste is more than just leftover food being thrown away. In fact, food waste is a global issue that the United Nations and many countries have a specific definition for food waste. Understanding the definition of food waste will also teach us the severity of the food waste. Plus, we will be able to quickly identify the problem sources and resolve the issues soon.
Keep on reading to find out more about food waste and the definition and what we should do about food waste.

Food Waste’s Definition

Before we do anything, we should understand food waste’s definition. By having a clear understanding of food waste’s definition, we can then easily breakdown the problem and tackle this global problem. Food waste definition is just as important as to understanding the problem and the cause of the food waste.

Food waste’s definition according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculturel Organization,

food waste refers to the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by retailers, food service providers and consumers.

To put it simply, the definition of food waste is food that is perfectly fine to be consumed and is being discarded (wasted), and most of the food waste is happening at the retail levels (supermarkets, stores, and restaurants) or at consumer’s level, at home.
Just by looking at the definition of food waste, we understand that we often take food for granted and there are so many places we don’t realize that food is being lost and it is causing global issues.

Food Waste Confusion

Some of you might be wondering then what is the difference between food waste and food loss? The two ideas are very similar and it can be quite confusing. Don’t worry, I am here to tell you the difference and help you understand what food waste means.

First, food waste is intertwined with food loss. There is a lot of confusion around the food waste and food loss, while some places define the difference being where the food is being discarded. Food loss is when food is discarded when it is deemed not acceptable for retail. So this usually happens at the production stage or even the transportation stage. Food waste is when it is discarded at retail or at home, when the food either expired or has gone bad or there is just too much food. While there are times that food is discarded as food loss due to health regulations, many times, they are discarded due to the appearance and appeal. This happens to the fruits and vegetables very often, even though the food itself is perfectly fine to be eaten, however, if it doesn’t look pretty or appealing the fruits and vegetables are often discarded. Which creates more problems along with the already existing food waste problems. The wasteful food loss issues with the already happening food waste problems are creating a huge problem worldwide and why we need to take actions.

Why Food Waste is an important issue?

Food Waste with leftover food
Now that you know food waste’s definition, we can go on to see why it is important that we take actions against food waste. Food waste is currently a global issue that is affecting millions of people each day. With the current trajectory of the problem, it seems like it will become an even bigger problem in the future and we need to do something about it while we can.
Food waste awareness is important because while tons of food are wasted, there are millions that don’t have access to food. These people can’t even imagine the amount of food that is being thrown away everyday, they are having a hard time securing their next meal. It is very devastating and an issue that is happening globally. Not only are there people in food insecurity, the amount of trash that is caused by the food waste is not good for the environment.

Food Waste Problems and Issues

Food waste problems include overstocking for the retails (supermarkets and stores), environment problems, and sustainable issues. Overstock is when supermarkets display a mountainful of food, while in reality only a small percentage are actually being sold and the rest are discarded. This overstocking causes kilos and food being thrown daily even though they are perfectly edible and create enormous amounts of food waste. With the excessive amount of food waste being thrown away creates another food waste problem of having food just piled in landfills and creating greenhouse gases.
This article is perfect for those of you who want to know more thorough information about food waste problems.

How we can help

Food waste solution: compost
For those of you wondering, well what can we do about food waste. First, since you have already read this article, good job! Being aware of the issue is very important. Now that you know about the issue of food waste, it is time to take action to solve these problems. That can include reducing personal food waste, raising awareness about food waste, and helping organizations that are trying to reduce food waste and rescue food loss.
By knowing about food waste, you can help to reduce it and make a difference. You can truly stop wasting food individually and as a planet, and ensure everyone can get food too.

“Food Loss and Food Waste.” Food and Agriculture Organization.Web. 12 Nov. 2020.
Author: Monica Chang
Director of Ethical Choice
I am passionate about finding amazing sustainable and eco-friendly products and sharing them with more people. Interesting in plastic-free, reduce waste, and DIY.