A huge amount of food is wasted each year in Canadian households. (Citizen file)

A huge amount of food is wasted each year in Canadian households. (Citizen file)

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. Never have we 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 then not surprising that food is one of those things that 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 certain 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 shepherds pie or casseroles or roast beef sandwiches for these families. A meal is one and done. At one time, before we all had refrigerators and freezers to store our food this might have made some kind of 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

This Earth Day, Cowichan Valley residents are being asked to clean up where they are. (File photo)
Cowichan ‘Clean Where You Are’ campaign starts on Earth Day

Take a bag, one glove, long tongs, and go pick up!

City of Duncan considering an average 3.51 per cent tax increase for 2021. (File photo)
Duncan considers average 3.51% tax increase for 2021

Homeowners would see a $43 increase over last year

North Cowichan councillor Kate Marsh. (File photo)
North Cowichan postpones decision on cell tower placement

But cell tower policy may be developed soon

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read