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What is Food Waste

Food loss and food waste refer to the decrease of food in subsequent stages of the food supply chain intended for human consumption. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption.

As Canadians, we waste on average 873 pounds of food per person every year. This makes us one of the the biggest food wasters in the world. The cost to our economy is over $30 billion with estimates closer to $100 billion when we begin to factor for the cumulative cost of producing, transporting, selling, and disposing of Canada's food waste. Individually, it is as though we were all throwing away $760 every year, but the cost is much steeper for our environment and our society. On the environmental side of this issue, our food waste creates 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gases emissions as it sits in landfills. On the Social front, while we are throwing out perfectly good food, 4 million Canadians live with food insecurity of which 1.15 million are children. 

Food waste may be accidental or intentional, but ultimately leads to less food available for all. Food that gets spilled or spoilt before it reaches its final product or retail stage is called food loss.

This may be due to problems in harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure or market / price mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.

Harvested bananas that fall off a truck, for instance, are considered food loss. Food that is fit for human consumption, but is not consumed because it is or left to spoil or discarded by retailers or consumers is called food waste. This may be because of rigid or misunderstood date marking rules, improper storage, buying or cooking practices. A carton of brown-spotted bananas thrown away by a shop, for instance, is considered food waste. (FAO)