An in-depth report released today by Second Harvest shows that across the country, Canada wastes almost 60 percent of all the food it produces. Not only that, but 32 percent of that food is still edible and could potentially be donated to people in need. In total, it amounts to 11.2 million metric tonnes or over $49 billion dollars.
Such staggering numbers are difficult to even comprehend, but imagine over 430,000 dump trucks driving by you (even that’s hard to imagine…) filled to the brim with food to be discarded, even though over 130,000 of those dump trucks contain food perfectly capable of being eaten; you could reach in and pull out an apple or a container of yogurt and enjoy a perfectly good afternoon snack. Yet it all goes to waste.
How could this be happening? The report cites production and processing as the primary sites of waste, but it occurs at every stop from farm to plate, including:
- Farmers letting produce rot on or in the ground because it doesn’t make economic sense to harvest it due to labour shortages or low prices
- Producers and retailers discarding surplus product that is blemished or past its peak freshness
- Consumers throwing out food past its best before date even though best before dates are unrelated to food safety
Why does all this matter? Beyond the wastefulness it exemplifies in industrialized agriculture and common consumer practices, it is a disappointing missed opportunity to rescue food and redistribute it to the over 15% of Canadian households that experience food insecurity. Not only that, but food in landfills produces methane gas as it decomposes, and methane gas is 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
What do we do? Everyone has a part they can play in reducing food waste. For many of us it means judging the edibility of food in our cupboards and fridges by its smell and taste instead of its date sticker. It also means helping out where we can and ensuring the food grown in our homes and on our land doesn’t share the same fate.
That’s where the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project comes in!
DO YOU OWN A FRUIT TREE?
Register as a VFTP tree owner today so you know who to contact if you ever have excess fruit that might otherwise fall to the ground.
LOOKING TO GET INVOLVED IN THE CAUSE?
Volunteer with us! Our stellar team of volunteers goes out to pick fruit that would otherwise be wasted and redistributes it to our community partners around Vancouver.