When we throw away food, we waste all the resources that went into producing it, warns a University of Guelph hospitality researcher ahead of the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (IDAFLW).
Bruce McAdams is a professor at the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics who researches sustainability issues in the food service industry in the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management.
IDAFLW was created in 2019 to bring attention to what McAdams calls “a significant issue that challenges the sustainability of our food systems and our food security, in Canada and globally.”
Throughout all layers of the food service industry, food waste is an environmentally costly issue, he says.
“The production of food uses many resources such as water, land, energy, labour and capital,” he explains. “Wasting food means wasting these inputs. It also creates disposal issues, with most restaurant food waste ending up in landfills where it contributes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.”
Addressing these issues, though, need not be complicated, he says.
Implementing environmental cost analyses could encourage stakeholders throughout the industry to “no longer ‘accept’ food waste but to look for innovative ways to mitigate waste generation while also redirecting, repurposing and reusing food,” he says.
Minimizing food waste can be done by ensuring it is properly composted, by downsizing portion sizes in restaurants and by rethinking the concept of “quality assurance,” which often sees “perfectly edible and nutritious food thrown out because the perfect time to serve it to a customer has expired,” adds McAdams.
He is available for interviews.
Prof. Bruce McAdams