From the Editor: Stop the Waste

Photo by Nick Wong

The road to sustainability is a long, arduous journey. But there’s more to sustainability than simply reducing, reusing and recycling. A truly sustainable business incorporates social and ethical responsibility into its business model, ensures staff is paid living wages and treated equitably, is mindful of its food-waste practises (including food recovery) and, ultimately, respects food.

Indeed, in recent years, there’s been greater awareness of food waste and its impact on society. The statistics are harrowing — the United Nations estimates one-third of all food worldwide goes to waste. Canadians waste more than 32-billion lbs. annually. Now, a recent survey undertaken by Value Chain Management and Second Harvest claims 58 per cent of the food produced here is either lost or wasted — a much higher figure than had previously been estimated. And, 86 per cent of that waste occurs within the food industry.

Food processing contributes 34 per cent of waste, followed by production (24 per cent), manufacturing (13 per cent), retail (four per cent) and distribution (two per cent). Hotels, restaurants and institutions contribute nine per cent of waste.

Not surprisingly, governments are now starting to allocate increased funds to educating the public about food waste. And recently, food-recovery programs such as Toronto-based Second Harvest and Montreal-based La Tablée des Chefs are expanding efforts in other areas of the country, most recently in B.C.

In a story published earlier this year in the Globe and Mail, Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest called the results of the company’s recent research “shocking.” And, when you consider food waste also creates major environmental repercussions that haven’t typically been considered (producing food requires land, water and fertilizer), using limited resources only to have the food end up in landfills makes the situation more dire. Consider also that food that winds up in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. As Nikkel points out in the article, it’s important to note that in Canada, food waste represents the equivalent of 12-million additional cars being driven year-round. “I don’t think people, when they think of climate change, think of food. But we really need to start.”

Not only is it time to start thinking of this issue in its totality, it’s time operators re-examine how they’re dealing with food waste and commit to doing more and better — not only will it save them money, it will benefit all of us.

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Rosanna Caira
Rosanna Caira is the editor and publisher of Kostuch Media’s Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier magazines. In her capacity as editor of Canada’s two leading hospitality publications, Rosanna directs the editorial and graphic content of both publications, and is responsible for the editorial vision of the magazines, its five websites as well as the varied tertiary products including e-newsletters, supplements and special projects. In addition to her editorial duties, Rosanna also serves as publisher of the company, directing the strategic development of the Sales and Marketing, Production and Circulation departments. Rosanna is the face of the magazines, representing the publications at industry functions and speaking engagements. She serves on various committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation. She is a recipient of the Ontario Hostelry’s Gold Award in the media category. In 2006, Rosanna was voted one of the 32 most successful women of Italian heritage in Canada. Rosanna is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English literature.

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