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The Problem of Food Waste

September 12, 2018

The Problem of Food Waste

For those of you unfamiliar with our story, I started fiid in 2015 crafting freshly made vegan meals and selling them in the fridge through supermarkets across Ireland.  They tasted great but had a short shelf life. Because retailers require shelves to be fully stocked, a huge pain point for me was food going out of date before its sold and ending up in the bin. As you can imagine, as a company that donates food to children with nothing, to be dumping food so trivially really didn’t sit well.

And it wasn’t simply an ethical discomfort. Food waste is a massive problem across the world - globally 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food is wasted every single year.  All this waste has bigger consequences than perfectly good food being squandered (which is bad enough frankly) because of the resources required to make that food.

To illustrate the scale of this problem here’s a couple of jaw dropping statistics that the guys at food waste charity Food Cloud have pulled together:

  • 300 billion barrels of oil is used each year to produce food that is wasted*
  • We use farmland the size of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan combined to grow food that is never actually eaten*
  • Globally, the blue water footprint of food wastage is 250 cubic km which is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva*
  • In ireland alone, 1 million tonnes of food is thrown out by consumers and businesses every year*

As you can see, our attitude to food and our ambivalence towards wasting it must be a huge contributor to climate change - another burning issue (excuse the pun). It was because of all this that I wanted to make a change to how we do things; I didn’t want my business to be contributing to the problem of food waste any longer and instead chose to work towards finding a sustainable solution.

All of our bowls are perfectly portioned for one meal and are packaged specifically so that they last longer without compromising on quality - no more throwing away food from the fridge that you didn’t get a chance to use.

But what else can we do to reduce the amount of food waste that we’re generating?

  • Shop smarter: Start at the supermarket and be realistic about what you’re going to use. Fresh fruit and veggies are amazing but they don’t last very long. Maybe reduce the amount of fresh bananas from 12 to 4 for a week and see how many you actually eat
  • Resist the price discounts: We all love a deal but do you really need that 49cent three pack of giant onions when you live alone and don’t cook food from scratch?
  • Get smart about how you store food at home: I never realised but you can prolong the life of food simply by storing it correctly.Nicholas Toulouse wrote agreat article for Food Republic on how to segment the fridge to optimise life span of food which is a good place to start.
  • Keep an organised fridge: This is so underrated but I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your fridge tidy and uncluttered so you can actually see what’s there and to prevent things from getting lost
  • Utilise the power of the freezer: If you think you’re unlikely to eat food within a couple of days just bang it in the freezer for a later date. I freeze a lot of fruit and veg that I use for smoothies later on and it takes some pressure off me during the week to use it all.

Food waste is an avoidable issue on this massive scale if we all work together to be a little bit more mindful. Luckily for you there’s plenty startups in the food space just like us that are looking to help - we’re big fans of the guys at Strong Roots (their veg is a winner accompaniment to a fiid bowl hack) and Drop Chef in Ireland who deliver pre-portioned ready to cook meal kits.

Any other tips I missed?


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