The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that a third of all food produced worldwide, valued at $1 trillion, is wasted. Global hunger has spawned many initiatives, the latest coming from cost-conscious Germany who’ve started “foodsharing”.
Foodsharing consists of using the Internet to share food recovered from supermarket bins that’s still in good condition. More than 8,200 people across Germany have registered on www.foodsharing.de within just seven weeks of its existence. The website advises people where “baskets” are located and what’s inside them, which could be organic sausages in Cologne or spaghetti in Chemnitz. Members can see the address of nearby baskets, choose a pick up time and place and then rate the transaction like ordinary online retailers.
Foodsharing founder Raphael Fellmer has also set up “hot spots” where food can be picked up anonymously. Fellmer argues that the tonnes of food wasted in Germany could be used to feed people in poor countries. According to Camelia Bucatariu, policy expert on food waste at the FAO in Rome, this idea isn’t as simplistic as it sounds.
“Less waste means less drain on resources in the producer countries and less upward pressure on prices. It is not only wasting an apple, but wasting the resources embedded in that apple which may be produced outside of Europe.”
As well as economic damage there’s also the environmental cost of using energy to grow food that ends up in a landfill site, emitting greenhouse gases like methane.
The FAO is studying how to change such behaviour and whether legislative changes are needed for the retailers’ “date marks”, differentiating “Best By” from “Use by” – the latter being the date when food may start to become a biological hazard.