October 16th is World Food Day. For many, the day is about focusing on healthier food systems and even more simply, healthier food. For food waste geeks like myself, it's a time to recognize the unacceptable hunger that still exists despite about one third of all food in the world going to waste. As you likely already know, FAO estimates that 805 million people worldwide are undernourished. Many more are food insecure and do not know where their next meal is coming from at least once, but likely quite often, during the year. This problem is a correctable one and a movement is building to do just that.
As the expression goes, we need to think global and act local. This holds particularly true for food waste and food recovery. In that spirit, I and my colleagues at the Zero Food Waste Forum are co-coordinating a 3-day series of events in Berkeley and Oakland, California, that was recently dubbed the “Woodstock of Food Waste.” While the global food security community and local food movements tend to be separate, there is a lot we can learn from each other. One of the most exciting things that we’ve found in building these events is the international technological solutions that are rapidly expanding and accessible all over the world. Furthermore, not only are the solutions accessible, most can all be utilized with the click of a phone from anywhere at any time. And I’d like to give you a sneak peak at four such promising inventions that will be highlighted at our event on World Food Day, the Zero Food Waste Forum.
What do you do when you have leftover tree fruit that you cannot eat? Maybe you would let it lie to rot away, maybe you would compost it but hopefully you wouldn’t trash it. Well now, there are websites like FallingFruit.org and its worldwide open source map that connect people to local tree fruit that would have otherwise fallen from neighbors trees and be left uneaten. There’s also retail solutions like FoodLoop of Cologne, Germany which brings a new dimension to the reduction of food waste through an innovative platform that cuts food waste while offering economic value to retailers. FoodLoop offers the Food Retail Industry the first business to business to consumer marketing platform for sustainable supply chain-optimization using barcodes. FoodLoop also offers a consumer app, on which retailers can market high-quality fresh food produce automatically and in real time at discounted pricing as best-before-dates draw closer.
Travel below the equator a ways and there’s Satisfeito of Sao Paulo, Brazil that aims to shine a new light on the issue of hunger and food waste by showing how simple it can be for people to make a change in the world just by choosing an appropriately sized dish. In Portuguese, the word Satisfeito is a term used to express gratitude for a meal just eaten and to convey appreciation for the food just received. When customers visit participating restaurants, they will have the option of choosing a dish in the Satisfeito version, which is one-third smaller than the original size, but the same price. What the restaurant saves in food by selling this smaller plate will be to NGO organizations working towards child food security.
And lastly, we even have a more local solution that will be presented at our Forum with Zero Percent. The Founder of Zero Percent, Raj Karmani, who grew up Pakistan but now works in Chicago, Illinois, has developed “the eBay of food recovery” with his associates. They describe it as a technology where food to recover is posted online, just like an old cell phone would be on eBay. As Raj also points out in a fun way, the technology serves as a “mission impossible” scenario where someone posts food to pick up on the Zero Percent system and it is your mission “should you chose to accept it” to recover this food. And judging by the successes of Zero Percent it is certainly a mission possible and one worth spreading from continent to continent.
For more information, please visit: www.EndFoodWaste.org. And please, do your part to end food waste and hunger all over the world!