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     In a world where around 1/3 of food produced is wasted, it almost seems paradoxical that hundreds of millions of individuals are living in food insecurity.  The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food waste as wholesome edible material intended for human consumption that is instead discarded, degraded, or lost. However, it can also encompass the by-products of food processing, the resources that go into growing the food, and even over-nutrition in some populations. But what exactly drives the creation of food waste?

 

     To no surprise, food waste originates from a complex network of factors. With the modernization of food systems, industrialization has allowed for the overproduction of food, while general economic growth has put us in a mindset that we can “afford” to waste food. Urbanization has detached us from rural farms, creating a disconnection within the farm-to-fork path. From a cultural perspective, some countries have stronger food traditions ingrained in their culture than others, resulting in differing attitudes towards food. For example, France places a large emphasis on the communal aspect of mealtimes, but these parts of the day are often rushed or disregarded in North America. Additionally, food waste is often generated as a by-product of governmental policies. Although necessary, policies for proper food quality testing and prevention of food health hazards can lead to a large amount of food being discarded.

 

An image depicting the food supply chain from raw materials to the consumer

Image taken from: Tzounis, A., Katsoulas, N., Bartzanas, T. & Kittas, C. (2017). Internet of Things in agriculture, recent advances and future challenges. Biosystems Engineering, 164(2017), 31-48.   doi:10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2017.09.007.

 

     A finding that I personally found interesting is how less developed countries produce more food waste in the earlier parts of the Food Supply Chain (FSC), while more developed countries produce more in the latter parts. Less developed countries experience a large portion of food waste at the agriculture and food processing level, which could be ameliorated through improved agricultural infrastructure, increased technological skills and knowledge, and more efficient storage. On the other hand, more developed countries struggle with food waste at the retail and consumption level. Although this pertains to problems with governmental policies, solving the issue requires cooperation from everyone to shift to more sustainable consumption patterns and practices.

 

So what can we do on an individual level to combat this issue?

  1. Better planning: if you plan your meals ahead of time and buy the amount you need and no more, you can prevent problems with having too much food in the house that ends up spoiling.
  2. Proper storage: learn how to best store your food to extend its shelf life. By handling food effectively, you can reduce food spoilage in your household.
  3. Increased awareness: simply knowing about the issue will cause you to be more conscious of the decisions you make in relation to food. Educate your peers and let’s tackle this issue together!

To learn more, check out these articles:

 

Papargyropoulou, E., Lozano, R., Steinberger, J. K., Wright, N., & Ujang, Z. B. (2014). The food waste hierarchy as a framework for the management of food surplus and food waste. Journal of Cleaner Production, 76(1), 106–115. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.04.020

 

Thyberg, K. L., & Tonjes, D. J. (2016). Drivers of food waste and their implications for sustainable policy development. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 106(2016), 110–123. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.11.016

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      Food has been a defining issue of the 21st century. Research conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has shown that over 821 million people do not have adequate food to consume, although we currently produce enough food globally to feed the whole population. The current global food system privileges the wealthy, while the poor remain bound to a cyclical poverty trap. Flash forward to the year 2050, where the global population is now projected to reach 10 billion people. The question for the future then becomes, what will happen if political leadership continues to fail in providing an equitable food system for all, and how will we cope with the growing demands of a rising population, where demand for food will begin to outstrip supply?

 

     Today, there are approximately 2,200 kilocalories of food produced for every person daily. Although we currently produce the recommended average caloric intake for the world's population, there are a few major limitations to our global food system. One issue to recognize is that caloric intake does not necessarily reflect a healthy or nutritional diet. The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate (HHEP) tells us that humans should consume: 15 servings of fruits and vegetables, eight servings of whole grains, five servings of protein, and one serving of oil daily to have a nutritional diet.

 

(Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)

 

      However, due to overproduction of certain food groups, the average individual’s diet consists of a high carbohydrates, fats, and sugar intake, which is likely to promote prevalence in cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The second issue pertains to climate variability and biodiversity loss due monoculture systems and increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from meat production. If we continuously utilize croplands for monocultures and feed for our cattle industry, we could endanger species and reduce biodiversity which is needed as carbon sinks to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2). Lastly, in terms of GHG emissions from food production, the most significant impacts come from the meat, poultry, and pork industry. Currently, livestock production contributes to 2.90 GT CO2e/yr. The number of gigatons of CO2 will continue to grow, as the demand of food begins to rise due to population increases. Therefore, there is a need for alternative and sustainable pathways for our food production, as the longer our society waits, the more devastating the impacts of CO2 will be on our communities.

 

Assessing Future Pathways for Food Production

 

     The article When too much isn’t enough: Does current food production meet global nutritional needs? written by Krishna Bahadur, Evan Fraser and fellow researchers, suggests that there are three future scenarios to sustainably and nutritionally feed 10 billion people in 2050.

 

     The first scenario mentions the consumption of proteins but emphasizes the reduction of arable land that is allocated for the meat industry and meat alternatives. In this way, producing alternative sources of proteins such as insects, fungus, and algae can help decrease GHG emissions. The second scenario is to use scientific techniques and innovative farming practices to increase global fruit and vegetable production, which aligns with the recommendations of the HHEP. In order to do this in the most sustainable manner, vertical farming practices and indoor production facilities, would be best to minimize land use practice. The final scenario suggested is to reduce household food waste. This is important, as out of all the food waste that occurs globally, 20% is attributed to food that is not eaten in homes and is left to rot in landfills. If each person could reduce their waste at home, overall methane emissions would decrease.

 

     If more sustainable practices like the ones mentioned above are adopted, and if we move towards following the HHEP more closely, land use for whole grain, fat and oil, and sugar production would drastically decrease. Therefore, we need to take action and incorporate more plant-based proteins and fruits and vegetables into our diets. To end, we have the opportunity as a global community to make the required changes needed to make our world more sustainable for the coming years.

 

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a picture of the globe with a thermometer showing rising temperatures, a plant, and an impressed scientist

 

Due to climate change and the development of new technologies, scientists predict that we will be able to do agriculture in northern lands that have, until now, been unable to support farming. While the potential to bring down food costs in isolated northern communities and increase global food production could lead to improved food security, disturbing these previously unfarmed northern soils also has its risks. Learn more about the potential benefits and risks of introducing agriculture to the far north, and possible alternatives in the latest addition to our video series.

 

Watch our newest illustrated video to learn more!

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Part of the challenge of Feeding 9 Billion is ensuring everyone has equal access to the types of food that make up a healthy diet. However, although the world currently produces enough calories per day for everyone to eat a full diet, consumer patterns have led to a mismatch between the types of food we produce and the types of food we should eat. Explore the benefits of producing a more nutritious balance of foods and what we can do to influence this in the next installment of the Feeding 9 Billion video series.

 

Watch our newest illustrated video to learn more!

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The Feeding 9 Billion Card Game, winner of the 2019 Gold Medal Serious Play award, was recently featured on CTV News! Watch the story below to see how the game, designed to get students excited about agriculture, is being used in high school classrooms.

 

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From improvements in monitoring animal health to more precise planting methods to increasing consumer confidence in the origin and treatment of the food they eat, technology is making waves in the world of agriculture. Join Evan and Malcolm Campbell, Vice President of Research at the University of Guelph, as they explore the benefits and limitations of a new generation of digital agricultural technologies.

 

Watch our new illustrated video to learn more!

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Cattle. Pigs. Chickens.

 

Most of the world's protein comes from these three land-based species, but producing these species takes a lot of water, energy and land. How can we sustainably produce enough nutritious protein to feed the growing needs of our population?

 

Watch our new illustrated video to learn more!

 

 

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LOS ANGELES – August 20, 2019 – Seven Board Games designed for use in education have been cited for excellence in the 2019 Serious Play Award Competition.

 


Gold Medals were awarded to:

  • Complexity, a game that offers a window into the fascinating machinery of life. With mnemonics and solid game play, students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of human anatomy and health. Created by TechnoNature.
  • Feeding 9 Billion: The Card Game, for high school teachers to use to introduce students to basic concepts around food security, agriculture, nutrition and climate change. Developed by Evan Fraser, Director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph and artist Christine De Vuono.

Silver Medal status went to:

  • Roots of Power, a game to help clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts. Developed by Seriously Entertaining Education.

Bronze Medal recognition went to:

  • Alembic, a game where players will learn chemical properties of common metals, all in the form of experimental chemistry. Created by Catlilli Games.
  • Critical Strengths Engine, a game set that includes four pre-written stories designed to support teens as they explore social and emotional skills such as cooperation and empathy. This engine can also be paired with a diverse range of stories and campaigns. Developed by iThrive Games Foundation.
  • Miner Madness: Dig into code theory, a game to help students develop critical thinking skills, logic and systematic cognition while learning code theory. Created by the EPIC Project @ KCAD.
  • +PLUSOUT!!: Battle Points a strategy game designed to help students improve their mental math skills, as well as their abilities to add to, take from, combine and compare numbers. The game can be customized to share across multiple grade levels. Created by Brandon Bell.

Winners are given a chance to attend Serious Play Conference Events and display their games. The locations for the 2020 conferences will be announced in November 2019.


For more information, go to www.seriousplayconf.com.
 

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Canada's 2007 Food Guide from Health Canada

(Health Canada)

     

Until recently, Canada's Food Guide focused mainly on the components of a healthy diet, and their proportions. However, although Canada's food sector produces a variety of choices from each of the necessary food groups, and $50 billion of food is wasted annually, some Canadians still go hungry. It's clear that having an understanding of a healthy diet is not capturing the whole picture.

 

Check out this article from Evan Fraser in The Conversation, to learn about how Canada's new food policy incorporates reducing food waste, sustainable food production, and making healthy foods accessible for all.

 

Read the article here!

 

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