Keeping leftovers in the fridge without having a proper meal plan is not sustainable, not just for your wallet but even for the environment, people and other animal species. Food loss and waste are serious concerns today. We have become accustomed to throwing food just because it smells weird or tastes funny. See, growing up, throwing food was some sort of taboo. You would have been cautioned and asked whether you think the ancestors need food or worse still, a beating to remind you that in some parts of Kenya there are children sleeping hungry without food. Then, whenever the news headlines would feature a drought and hunger story, if you are near the eye view of your parents, a whole story of why you should not waste any food would befall you.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the food that gets wasted in Sub- Saharan Africa could feed 300 million people in Africa alone. This is close to 50% of food being thrown out as trash. This is a sad situation despite the continued developmental growth of African countries. This is, however, met with the rise of climate change which is leading to an increase of drought eventually resulting in individuals being malnutrition or dying because of lack of food. This is surprising considering the fact that we are producing more food, especially with the advancements in agricultural technology globally. As we levy on the Sustainable Development Goals agenda on Zero Hunger (Goal 2) and Sustainable Consumption and Production (Goal 12), half of the food loss and waste should have been mitigated by 2030.
Consumer-driven food waste has evolved over time with not only a rise in population but also the growing middle class in Africa. This has been compelled by perception and misleading information through media and an ease of access to information. Changing consumer habits goes a long way to reduce our environmental footprint. Google, a global technology company, has joined the fight to monitor the amount of food we consume and how we can reduce food waste. The company has launched a web application, ‘Your Plan Your Planet’ to aid in monitoring what we consume while providing solutions for everyday life in terms of food consumption. The application is an interactive way to understand our environmental impact and learn simple, science-based ways to improve it
If we are to ensure we have reduced the amount of food we waste every day, we need to collaborate. Collaboration and building strong partnerships towards mitigating food waste can go a long way in ensuring we avoid food loss right from the farm. This is where food will be stored properly and will eventually reach the consumer in an edible state. Food should also not be thrown because it’s shape is not right. Nothing is perfect and this includes food which still maintains its natural state even though we have manipulated and genetically modified it. Restaurants and grocery stores should also be held accountable for any food waste which could have been avoided. As consumers, we should always plan ahead and avoid buying into consumerism which only leads to us purchasing food products we might not even consume.
Google is not the first company to launch a mobile application to monitor how much food we consume. However, as a popular global company taking such a step, this is an opportunity and a gateway to encouraging others to also consider the environment we are all in. To realize that we are only here today and there a future generation watching us, we can always do better.
Other than monitoring food consumption, the web application also offers solutions on how to manage electricity and water.