Reducing Food Waste in Australia
Reducing food Waste by 20% in a year through Changing Food Practices and Behavior amongst Young Adults (18-24 years old) in New South Wales.
Food waste is a growing national problem in Australia. It accounts to a billion worth of food waste each year. It is wasted through production, retail, and consumer wastes. Food insecurity and obesity cohabit in this problem. Food insecurity exists when there is limited or uncertain access to nutritious and safe food. Obesity in this context commonly occurs to population with low income. Oftentimes, cheap food is unhealthy food. It depletes vitamins and minerals causing the body to be prone to chronic diseases. (1)
While the people who has adequate amount of food wastes so much, there are some people who go hungry each day. Inequity in the availability of food to different parts of Australia exists. In the production and retail process, it was found out that there is a standard ‘food aesthetic’ wherein oddly shaped and differently colored fruits and vegetables are discarded for aesthetic reasons, and these perfectly fine food are left to rot. (2)
There are hidden impacts of food waste in the environment. Food waste when thrown into landfills generate greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and carbon dioxide which is harmful to the ozone layer. This contributes to increasing the speed of global warming. It affects the environments ability to produce goods and sustain the needs and demands of the current population. Occurrence of natural disasters (drought, pests, diseases) become more frequent due to environmental destruction which disrupts the health of individuals.
Food waste also affects the economic status of the country. Too much food waste from pre-production and post-production are predominant. The natural resources, energy and oil spent during these processes are economic losses when food is wasted.
The biggest wasters of food are young adults aged 18-24 years old. This is the stage where they move out from their homes and live independently. Due to their busy lifestyle, they are the top consumers of ‘take away food’, which are big servings of costly unhealthy food. In a recent study of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, data shows that 63.4% of Australian adults are obese or overweight.
This is identified as a public health problem since it encompasses health and well-being, environmental and socio-economic aspects which are essential parts of the determinants of health. Studies show that Australians live longer but are suffering more from chronic diseases. They suffer from hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and obesity. Consequently, it is deemed vital to address this public health issue.
The program evaluation is for the public health practitioners and the Government. The results of this evaluation dig down to the root cause of current health problems. It seeks to address the unseen effects of food waste that greatly affects the health status of Australians. Lifestyle diseases are derived from the food practices and behavior of the population. Reducing food waste is a multi-solution to the physical, environmental and economic problems of Australia.
This evaluation further targets Food Waste advocated NGO’s, young adults, and the lay audience. This could be used as a guideline on how they can help resolve the problems of food waste and existing health problems at the same time.