Would you cash your paycheque and then set a third of it on fire? Or fill up your tank and burn off a third of your car's carbon-emitting gasoline while idling? What about going to your bookshelf and tossing every third novel into the fireplace?
Of course not because that would be an absurd waste of money and energy as well as being bad for the environment. Besides, if you really didn't need the money, you'd donate the extra cash to charity rather than destroy it, right?
Wrong, at least when it comes to food.
In Canada, we waste 40 per cent of our food every year, which equals $31 billion worth or about $864 per person. The "true cost," however, is as much as $107 billion based on the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimate that the value of food waste only represents 29 per cent of the true cost if one includes environmental and social impact.
When you look at global food waste these numbers jump to an even more mind-boggling US$1 trillion as 30 per cent of all food produced on this planet goes uneaten while 800 million people go hungry.
As well as providing no nourishment, this food waste taxes our environment. The FAO calculates that food waste generates 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases worldwide, squanders a quarter of arable farmland and contributes to political instability as climate change increases food shortages.
This horrifying fact of modern life is made even more so because so much food waste could be reduced if we just demanded more of ourselves, our corporations and our government.
That is the thinking behind #Reclaim, a global Huffington Post campaign in which editions from around the world are focusing on food waste issues, ranging from how Canadian technology is helping and tips on how to reduce your own to the tragedy of "ugly" produce and the trouble with expiry dates.
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NDP MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau is the author of the private member's bill C-231 winding its way through parliament. She penned a blog explaining why she's calling for a national food waste strategy that could save consumers hundreds of dollars each year, increase profits for farmers and grocers, and help address a food insecurity crisis where 3.9 million Canadians are unable to "properly feed themselves" each year.
Our Reclaim campaign is about informing our audience how bad the food waste crisis is and what they can personally do to help.
France passed a law in 2015 making it illegal for grocery stores to throw out unsold food -- now they have to donate it to charity or give it farmers for animal feed and compost. Canada could do the same if the government and grocers got on board.
In fact, Loblaws' low-cost "ugly produce" pilot project proved so popular that the grocery chain is expanding their "Naturally Imperfect" offering nationwide. Now we need to convince their competition to get on board.
But even that is just one part of the problem.
As consumers, we create 47 per cent of food waste ourselves and there's also a lot of food that never even makes it to retailers or restaurants so we have to start reducing waste at every stage of the supply chain from farm to table to trash.
Our Reclaim campaign is about informing our audience how bad the food waste crisis is and what they can personally do to help. But it's about collective action, too.
HuffPost Canada is working with Change.org to help you, our audience, turn your personal concern into public and private sector policy by signing existing petitions -- or building your own -- to demand that our Canadian executives and elected officials address this crisis now.
Our local, provincial and federal governments need to pass anti-food waste legislation.
The food industry as a whole needs to fix confusing and overly conservative date labelling which results in literally tonnes of perfectly good food being thrown out. And we, as consumers, need to figure out better ways to manage our own supply.
It's time to stop wasting and start reclaiming our food.
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