When We Waste Food We Waste Love

Out of date rotting food in dustbin
Out of date rotting food in dustbin

Image a little small piglet. Or a lamb. Or a cute chick or a rabbit. Imagine looking those animals straight in their eyes and telling them that they will grow up with a sole purpose of being slaughtered and tossed in the trash. What a terrible waste of lives.

Unfortunately, this is happening every day across the globe.

According to UN FAO, 20% of the annual global meat production is either lost or wasted - this is equivalent to 75 million cows.

Respect for food
Food waste is not only that piece of uneaten hamburger on your plate. It's also gigantic a waste of resources behind the scenes, when you really take a look at your hamburger and see its story unfold: Animal lives, land, farmer's work, fertilizers, animal feed, water, gas, energy, transportation, packaging, storing. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

And all of that - and much more - is going to waste when we waste food.

Now, I don't want to sound like a hippie, but in the world of escalating climate change, political instability, shootings, conflicts and repetitive terror attacks all over the world, we really need to talk about something positive. We need to talk about love. Yes, love.

Because when we waste food we waste love.

This year I have participated in 11 panel debates at the Danish political festival Folkemødet. Among the participants were the Landbokvinder - the Farmers Wives Association. They love growing food. When they and their families grow their own food in their farms, they would never waste it. To them, food must be treated with respect.

To the Farmers Wives, respect for food is self-evident, since they have helped growning the animals and the crops, which later becomes food. All that huge work is not to be wasted - a waste of food is the lack of respect for the food and the lack of respect for oneself - it corresponds to denigrate one's own work.

I am not lobbying for all of you to become farmers. Neither am I implying that all farmers are growing their food with love.

But the Farmers Wives's message is simple: Treat the food with respect, treat the food with love.

Any perhaps many of us would treat food with more respect and love, if we can become aware of the gigantic journey of the food getting from farm to our plates.

When your loved one has prepared a delicious home-cooked meal for you, that is a declaration of love. When you have grown your food in your garden with care and efforts, that is love. You don't waste love.

What can be measured can be managed
In my most recent TEDx Talk, I address many food waste traps, which we encounter on our journey from the trip to the supermarket to the depths of our fridge. Fortunately, people are becoming more aware of how not to feed their garbage bins.

The progress in the fight against food waste is now seen almost all over the world.

Lately, the global Food Loss & Waste Protocol measurement standard, created by many international parties, myself included, was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum 3GF in Copenhagen. What can be measured can be managed - especially if we are to achieve the new UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses).

Become a Stop Wasting Food activist
A couple of days ago, The Guardian proclaimed Denmark becoming a leader in the food waste revolution. Not only because Denmark has achieved a national food waste reduction by 25% in 5 years, but because we are the country in the world with the fastest growing amount of food waste prevention and reduction initiatives. To put it simply, we Danes started to hate wasting food. And because perhaps we Danes started to treat the food with more love and respect.

We can all become Stop Wasting Food activists, no mater the race, color, nationality, religion, country, sexual or political orientation. All you need to do is start caring for your food. Caring where it's come from - and caring where it ends - and stop wasting it.

The solution is not to move out to the country and grow our own food. No, the solution lies in a change of mindset: Food is love. You don't throw love away.

When we live with care and respect for our food - and our other consumer goods as well - we will create a positive effect on our society, the resources and ultimately the nature - where all the resources come from.

Quite simply, it is about treating the nature and our planet, that gives us so much, with love and respect - and not throwing the love away.