Green Groups Urge the Public to Avoid Food Waste from Farm to Table to Combat Climate Change

Reacting to a new study showing that cutting
food waste could help fight climate change, local green groups have come up
with some practical tips to guide Filipinos in reducing waste from farm to
“Food waste in a planet where many go to bed hungry is
unconscionable.  With the release of this
new study, we hope that more Filipinos will be made aware of the need to undo
all forms of food wastage, which is essential to ease malnutrition and hunger
and mitigate climate change in our midst,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator,
EcoWaste Coalition.  
Last April 7, scientists from Potsdam Institute for
Climate Impact Research in Germany conveyed that “reducing food waste would
offer the chance to ensure food security, yet at the same time it could help
mitigate dangerous climate change.” 
Globally, it is estimated that some 1.3 billion tons of food — worth
US$1 trillion —  are wasted every
The report “Food Surplus and Its Climate Burdens” found
that “avoiding food loss and waste may counteract the increasing food demand
and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the agricultural sector,”
stressing “this is crucial because of limited options available to increase
food production.”
Lead author Ceren Hic said that “reducing food waste can
contribute to fighting hunger, but to some extent also prevent climate impacts
like more intense weather extremes and sea-level rise.”
Co-author Prajal Pradhan explained that “agriculture is a
major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20 percent of overall
global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2010” and that “avoiding food loss and waste
would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse-gas emissions and help mitigate
climate change.”
“Up to 14 percent of overall agricultural emissions in
2050 could easily be avoided by a better management of food utilization and
distribution,” the report said.
To encourage the public not to waste food,  partner groups of the EcoWaste Coalition have
come up with a set of practical ideas to help reduce food waste from farm to
Among the groups who provided food waste prevention tips are Arugaan, Bangon
Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Consumer Rights for
Safe Food, Health Futures Foundation and the Mother Earth Foundation.

To cut food waste at the farm during harvest time, Dr.
Jaime Galvez Tan of Health Futures Foundation recommended the following: 1)
ensure adequate and clean containers for the produce; 2) keep the harvested
crops under the shade or in a clean spot that will not be disturbed by animals;
and 3) make sure that the goods are arranged properly and transported in a clean
and safe manner. 
At the policy front, Tan, a former health secretary,
suggested that the Department of Agriculture should have more refrigerated
storage warehouses (operated as a toll facility) to prolong the freshness of
perishable products.  “At least for every
district at the provincial level, there should be sufficient refrigerated and
non-refrigerated warehouses supported by refrigerated vans and transportation
system,” he added.
Rene Pineda of the Consumer Rights for Safe Food asked consumers to “be brave
and buy ugly fruits and vegetables,” arguing that “we can derive more nutrients
and assured of safety against chemical inputs when you buy local, indigenous
fruits and vegetables, and other fresh produce from your local wet
Pineda added: “We are all blinded by
vested food quality policies that corrupted the law of supply and demand. More
than half of fresh produce end up as waste because it cannot pass the standard
set by giant supermarket chains. Unfortunately, aesthetics is the only
criterion of the said standard.”

Pineda likewise reminded consumers to “be wary of ‘Unli
Rice’ in restaurants as one to two cups of rice is more than enough for
nourishment.”  He explained that
“consuming large amounts of rice per meal will not only make you sluggish and
sick when you cannot burn loads of carbohydrates in your system, it contributes
to food wastage as you get hooked to avarice.”

Breastfeeding champion and defender Ines Fernandez of
Arugaan suggested that consumers go to the nearby talipapa (market) instead of
going to the mall to buy fresh food cooking requirements for the family’s daily
meals, nourishment and medicine.  “Go
fresh and avoid processed food that come with extra packaging that often goes
to the garbage bin,” she said.
At the dining table, it’s important to “remind everyone to get only what can be
consumed and that not even a single grain will be left on the plate,” said
entrepreneur and zero waste practitioner Baby Reyes of the Mother Earth
“Set aside seeds of fruits and vegetables in small containers to produce
seedlings.  After cutting portions to be
eaten, plant stems of kamote tops and the like for propagation,” said
environmentalist Joey Papa of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement.

Disaster risk reduction and preparedness advocate Noli Abinales of Buklod Tao
said that household members should tell food preparers if they will eat at home
or not to ensure that only enough will be cooked.  “If there is a leftover, use this for packed
lunch the following day,” he said. 

Abinales also made a pitch for kitchen waste management at the household and
village level.  Every home must have a
container for kitchen and table scraps and every barangay must have a materials
recovery facility where the collected food waste and other organics can be
composted.  Households with fruit-bearing
trees should also make it a point to harvest the fruits before they fall to the
ground.  “Share the fruits with relatives
and give the rest to your neighbors,” he said.

EcoWaste Coalition partner groups also identified these practical
tips to curb food waste such as:
1. Check first what is on your cupboard and refrigerator
before rushing to the market.
2.  Be a smart shopper: plan your menu
for the week, enough to achieve the recommended daily allowance for nourishment,
prepare a marketing and grocery list and stick to it to avoid impulse buy.

3.  Buy, prepare
and cook only what you can consume at a time to avoid spoilage and waste.
4.  Only buy extra food items that can be
safely stored.

5.  Store fruits and vegetables in right
places to make them last longer.

6.  Eat less beef, chicken and pork, and
eat more fruits and vegetables.

7.  Do not waste raw or cooked food.

8.  Be careful
during food preparation to avoid food contamination and waste.
9.  Don’t over-serve; adjust the meal
portions for kids as they eat less than adults.

10.  Use a serving
spoon to avoid spoilage of leftover foods.
11.  Learn to save, recycle, repurpose
and eat leftovers. if leftovers could not be helped and are left forgotten in
the refrigerator, compost or feed to pets or birds visiting your yard

12.  Find new uses for damaged fruits and
vegetables instead of quickly discarding them.

13.  Give food scraps to animals or turn
them into compost to nourish the soil for healthier food.

14.  Segregate biodegradable from non-biodegradable
wastes for composting. 
15.  Train how to do composting and how
to grow your own food from your compost.