EDITORIAL: UN report on food waste a lot to chew on

The average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food each year

Our society is extremely wasteful. We never had so much and thrown so much away, treating everything from clothes to electronics as disposable when the next fad comes along.

With our brains now wired to discard rather than care for and repair, it is perhaps not surprising that food is one thing we waste.

A new report from the United Nations estimates that 17 per cent, or 1.03 billion tons, of the food produced around the world each year, is wasted.

When we consider that there are parts of the world, and even people here in Canada who are starving or going hungry, this figure is heartbreaking.

So just how does Canada stack up? Not well. The average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food each year, which is more than both the United States and Britain. Further, 61 per cent of food waste happens at home. So we can’t just keep on keeping on while pointing the finger at retailers, restaurants, farms and factories.

RELATED: UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021

We think this kind of waste is likely a new phenomenon. If you go to your grandmother’s cookbooks, you will find numerous recipes for leftovers and things you can make with such foods as over-ripe fruit (banana bread, anyone?). But at some point, for a particular segment of the population, the ability to avoid eating leftovers became a point of pride. There are far too many households that will cook an entire roast chicken, eat what they can in one meal, and discard the rest. No shepherd’s pie or casseroles or roast beef sandwiches for these families. A meal is one and done. Before we all had refrigerators and freezers to store our food, this might have made some sense. It makes none today.

Further, one can only imagine that when these folks head out to a restaurant and have food left on their plates at the end of the meal, there is no asking for a take-out container to enjoy the feast for the next day’s lunch.

And that’s just a deliberate sort of waste. Think of all the trips to the grocery store where our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and we wind up with a head of lettuce, a half dozen tomatoes and more that we barely touch if we touch them at all. If you’re not worried about your pocketbook, consider that the UN report says that an estimated eight to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food waste.

It all adds up to a sobering picture. We can and should do better.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read