GUELPH - Three University of Guelph professors say cutting food waste will help combat climate change. The recommendation comes just as the United Nations World Food Day arrives Oct. 16 under the theme “Climate Is Changing: Food and Agriculture Must, Too.”
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The U of G faculty say reducing food waste would be a big first step.
In a Friday press release, U of G plant agriculture prof. Ralph Martin, said every Canadian household wastes more than 20 per cent of food purchases on average, costing consumers $31 per week.
Martin said less waste would reduce pressure on farmers and ease demands on farmland, helping to maintain soil health.
“When there is less demand, then there is less need to produce food and thus the opportunity to save water, energy and inputs that are required to grow food,” said Martin, holder of the Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production.
“There are also more opportunities to use cover crops and crop rotations to improve soil organic carbon when excess production is not required.”
In the same release, hospitality, food and tourism prof. Bruce McAdams, said food waste has become important for the food service sector with a key issue being plate waste. Since many North Americans associate value with portion size, it's difficult for restaurant operators to make a change that goes against consumer expectations, he said.
Pre-made items in quick-service restaurants also pose problems.
“These items have best-before dates and times for quality assurance reasons, so full pots of coffee can get dumped after 15 minutes.”
However, he said, restaurateurs are interested in reducing food waste. “A lot of focus is put on decreasing cost for restaurant operators, so they have a huge motivation.”
Reducing food waste is a huge step toward food system sustainability, said geography prof. Kate Parizeau, who as worked with the City of Guelph to study food waste in residential garbage.
“When uneaten food winds up in landfills, the rotting process produces further greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste from the farm to the fork and beyond will enable us to mediate the environmental effects across the food value chain,” she said in the release.
Some solutions she suggests include marketing ‘ugly produce’ and improving composting in restaurants.
"Much of the food wasted occurs in homes, so we need to be more thoughtful of the food we buy, and learn how to best store and prepare it.”
Canadians enjoy relatively low food prices, but that can change, she added.
“Food will become more expensive in the future, so we need to create an effective low-waste food system now and address the challenges of agricultural constraints in the future.”
Source Guelph Mercury
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