Australians and people from other developed countries waste a lot of food. This wastage is not only expensive for individuals and families, it poses an ecological problem too.
According to Foodwise and based on a survey conducted by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts, Australians spend more than 8 billion dollars on discarded food amounting to the equivalent to 2.675 million tonnes of household food waste.
This amounts to wasting over $1,000 on discarded food, which could go towards spending on other items in the family budget. Imagine what you could buy for that $1,000!
The environmental impacts are significant too. Consider the costs of material and human resources such as water, fertiliser and then the time and labour spent on growing, harvesting and transporting the food to supermarkets, markets and greengrocers. Some suppliers of food to consumers even reject food that is ‘not quite right’ or do not meet the aesthetic criteria specifie: bendy bananas or larger-sized fruit. (Fortunately, movements such as Ugly Fruit and Vegetables are making rejected fruit and veg beautiful again)
The Department of Environment has made food waste minimisation recommendations for commercial, agricultural and domestic sectors; click here for more information.
The Foodwise and Eco Friendly Food are Australian web sites that are very student friendly and provide lots of user-friendly facts and visual and informative info-graphics to get your students thinking about and acting on minimising food waste.
Mentions in the media: Student task
Researchers: why ugly fruits and vegetables are making a comeback
Environmentalists: What does normal look like?
Celebrity cooks and journalists: Love your leftovers
Young people: youth food movement
Making Wise Food Choices
- Grow your own food and pick, harvest and collect on a ‘needs only’
- Make your own food and freeze leftovers in smaller portions for quick defrosting, ‘heat and eat’ to table (remember to allow a couple of days to defrost safely in the refrigerator)
- Minimise the amount of plastic waste, say ‘no to plastic bags’ and take your own shopping bags to the supermarket and buy unpackaged food.
- Compost your vegetable and fruit peelings (do not compost meat-containing foods as these encourage rodents)
The following suggestions come from a great little book titled Start Cooking available from Home Economics Victoria for a mini price of $37-00 (for non-members)
Questions for discussion
- What is meant by the following terms and how do they relate to me: food miles, food footprint, ecological footprint.
- Find out about your local Farmers markets here. How are Farmers market different to other food supply sources such as supermarkets?
- What is the ‘Australian Grown’ logo and labelling campaign? How does the campaign help Australians support the environment and our local food producers? (Consider Question 1)
- What are the issues concerning animal welfare in food production? What are ‘ethically-sourced’ foods, for example? Visit Eco Friendly foods and check out the Aussie Eco Friendly guide here
- What is meant by the 4 ‘Rs’ of packaging – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink. Design an infographic of your own to show how YOU and your family put these ideas into practice.
For VCE Food Studies Teachers and Students; consider the following ideas:
|Unit||Outcome||Learning ideas for assessment and activities|
|Unit 2: Food Makers||Outcome 1: Food industries||Use the Foodwise and Eco Friendly Food websites to determine the amount of money and production costs spent on food wastage and project savings on Australia’s economy if Australians bought locally.
Learning activity/assessment idea: conduct a focus group on minimising paddock to plate expenses. Create an infographic or presentation to peers on how they can minimise food wastage.
|Unit 2: Food Makers||Outcome 2: Food in the home||Learning activity/assessment idea: conduct a pre- and post-test plate waste survey after presenting a peer learning event on minimising food waste (see above)|
|Unit 3: Food in daily life||Outcome 2: Food choice, health and wellbeing||Learning activity/assessment idea: conduct a focus group or create a survey to evaluate the influences of issues on an individual’s or a family’s eating patterns. Issues include food miles, eco-friendly food, ‘ugly’ food, plastic-free packaging, ‘fair trade’ food.|
|Unit 4: Food issues, challenges and futures||Outcome 1: Environment and ethics
Relates to all dot points associated with the Key Skill: demonstrate understanding of sustainable and ethical food choices
|Learning activity/assessment idea: compare food wastage around the world with Australia: use the What the world eats in a week as a stimulus to compare the amount of food consumed by people in different countries.
Look at the issue of food equity: Oxfam teacher resources
Food insecurity in Australia can be found from the Institute of Australian Family Studies