Raising awareness on food waste

Edible food is often thrown away, but a new EU project aims to halve the amount of food that is needlessly chucked out by 2020. In Finland one tenth of all food goes to the garbage can while still edible.

Image: Mika Kanerva

While it may seem that the food scraps left on one's plate don't amount to much, taking more food than you can eat has direct bearings on how much food is produced. This in turn impacts the environment.

Habits form early on, and so school children in the Tampere region have been encouraged to become more aware of their eating habits in the "Zero Waste" campaign.

In a competition organized by the Tampere Regional Solid Waste Management company, Ekokumppanit and school caterers, the Hirsilä School in Orivesi won the prize for lowest amount of waste food per eater.

Ten schools in the Tampere region took part in the competition. In the schools that fared the best, food waste was reduced to as little as 10 grams per eater in a week. The campaign also taught students to recycle and avoid unnecessary consumption.

A brunch from the dump

But adults could also use tips on minimizing food waste.

In Helsinki, top chef Sami Tallberg cooked up a gourmet brunch out of food past its sell-by date. Grocery stores donated the food destined for the bin to the awareness-raising event held over the weekend.

On a grander scale, the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira recently responded to EU calls to halve food waste by allowing stores to donate food past its sell-by date to charity organizations.

With vegetables and fish that many would have considered garbage being transformed into delicious offerings such as seen at the weekend brunch, waste food could be set to become the new trend -- like the organic or fair-trade food crazes before.