Currently, Brazil wastes about 26.3 million tons of food per year, while a large portion of people is starving. The amount of food thrown in the trash could feed more than 10 million Brazilians daily. The waste starts at the time of planting, harvesting, and storage of food and continues indoors (Food Bank, 2006).
According to the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning Companies and Special Waste (Abrelpe), a large part of the population has the habit of buying fresh food (not industrially processed), prepares the food at home and end up throwing away about 60 % of buying. Result: more than half of the waste produced annually in Brazil is made up of food debris. This is because of many foods ar threw away unnecessarily. “Talos, bark and some leaves have their nutritional value and can be leveraged to make good meals and good dishes,” advises nutritionist NGO Food Bank, Suzete Raimondi (Food Bank, 2006).
However, the problem does not focus just on the edge of the food production chain, i.e., consumers. Studies show that the total food wasted in the country, 10% occur during harvesting; 50% in the handling and transport of food; 30% in supply centers; and the last 10% is diluted between supermarkets and consumers (Dias, 2003).
In other words, we can say that the loss of food is a problem at all to the extent that occurs by either unprepared who works in the call agricultural industry, the consumer. In transportation, bananas, for example, have been crushed by wooden boxes stacked on each other. In the wholesale centers, pineapples which came piled in trucks still dented the sales counters. Only in São Paulo state fairs over 1,000 tons of food products go to waste every day (Day, 2003; Table São Paulo, 2006).
For the agronomist Alfredo Tsunechiro, the Institute of Agricultural Economics, lack planning in production, purchase, and consumption of food. Fairs, for example, says Tsunechiro, the problem is the lack of modernization. They are old institutions and still buy from intermediaries. If the supply direct occurs producer, it would be easier to have smaller quantities, which would reduce the loss (Jornal da Tarde, 2001).
The lack of planning and the swelling of the supply chain, with the inclusion of many intermediaries between the producer and the final consumer, makes only in fruit production (30 million tons per year), waste varies from 20% to 35 %, while the vegetable segment (27 million tonnes per year) losses ranging between 20% and 50%. I.e. only for these products waste may reach 48.9 million tons per year (FGV / Food Bank, 2006).
It is noteworthy that there are also initiatives to combat the problem and at the same time putting food on the plate of those who are hungry. Are important initiatives undertaken by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and organizations such as the Social Service of Commerce (SESC)? The work consists primarily of collecting marketing remains in companies, grocery stores, municipal markets, bakeries and central supply, and then select these foods to distribute them in social entities. They are good products for consumption and unfit for sale, such as fruit with small spots and masses that were out of the standard package (Bello, 2002).
The work of these entities has the merit of minimizing distortions of loss of food and especially to give visibility to the problem by stimulating the multiplication of other initiatives in the country that meet the specificities of each region. However, alone the institutions can not tap into one of the main causes of this problem: the dominant model of agricultural production and distribution of food, the way it is characterized, perpetuates the culture of “waste” and “destruction” of both natural resources, as the crops themselves. It is about food production model and the contribution that organic agriculture can make to combat waste we talk next.
As the Organic Agriculture contributes to reducing waste
Waste goods so precious to life as food is due in part to our history, a country which earlier served as Portugal only colony of exploitation of natural resources. The motivation of immediate gain coupled with a vast expanse of land to Europeans seemed “endless,” made sprang a predatory model of agriculture which remains, despite technological changes and productive diversification that took place from the century XX (Padua, 2003).
According to the researcher Jose Augusto Padua (2003: 42), this model of agriculture, based on large estates (latifundia) in monoculture export and slave labor, was characterized by three principles:
- The feeling that natural resources are inexhaustible (culture of abundance).
- Destructive stance on these resources, the source of extensive technologies (low productivity per hectare of land) and careless with the environmental consequences (deforestation, soil erosion, extinction of fauna and flora species, pollution of rivers, etc.).
- Little attention to biodiversity and ecosystems typical of a tropical environment.
These principles laid the groundwork of facing agriculture mainly for export, owner of the largest tracts of land and inside the agricultural credit policies from the second half of the twentieth century, leaving family farms responsibility to produce food of the “basket Basic “of Brazil. A task that family farmers fulfilled admirably, as are properties with less than 100 hectares leaving 84% of cassava, 65% of beans and 49% of all corn produced in the country, despite receiving only 25.3% the whole volume of resources available for the financing of crops (Homem de Melo, 2001).
The family farms, therefore, have great potential to become true “storehouses” of agroecological agriculture, whose techniques and principles are applied in a decentralized manner, custom (the property is considered a living organism ) and adapted to culture, resources, biodiversity, and climate local (Padua, 2003).
It is noteworthy, however, that possibly the greatest contribution of Agroecology and its currents (organic, biodynamic, natural and permaculture) for the food waste problem is to propose a new ethics about food production systems. An ethical can appreciate the work of those who grow food while preserving soil, riparian forests, sources of drinking water, native plants and animals. An ethical able to reconcile the demands of the market for productivity, technical efficiency and competitiveness with the concerns of the ecological and social order involving the entire food production chain (producers, transporters, traders, industries, retailers, and consumers). To arouse reflections on the impact of our individual choices for the quality of life for all.
Another important contribution of the segment of organic farming is that the certification process to be required both for producers and for industries and trading companies makes them have to adopt good management practices that reduce or even avoid the waste of resources within of farms and factories. It is also through accountability that producers and companies do to certifying that they are required to maintain strict control (documents) of all plant, process, package and sell. Result: greater control results in minimal waste.Finally, the price differential is another factor that induces farmers and companies to process (in jams, jellies, juices, etc.) or take ((minimally processed vegetables) the most all parts of the food.
Also by being products free of pesticides and other potentially toxic substances, organic products can be recovered in full – husks, stalks, roots, leaves (sugar beet and carrots, for example), seeds and even lumps (for confectionery, for example) – in revenues, causing the family to benefit the most of all the nutrients that each food offers.
For these reasons, we believe that giving preference to the consumption of organic products means increasing social pressure on the food waste problem is tackled in its origins. For each citizen to assume its share of responsibility for a problem that is all of us.
What can we do to prevent or reduce food waste
- Avoid buying a month. Best make shopping more often because crowded pantry almost always accumulates product out of date. The common habit for inflation should be left behind. In addition to avoiding the excess, the “purchase mincemeat” enables the consumption of more fresh food.
- Vegetables (fruits and vegetables) are perishable and should be eaten without much delay. Therefore, consumers should not be ashamed to buy these products unit, a common habit in European countries.
- When searching for organic foods in supermarkets, only the consumer is more likely to purchase other items on impulse. Buying organic food to order in trading companies or trade facilitates the planning and control of the quantities and variety to be consumed. This suggestion also applies to conventional foods.
- Whenever possible take advantage of the leaves, stalks, husks and seeds of vegetables, especially if they are organic. These parts can be sauteed and mixed with rice or in the composition of sugared or baked pies, for example. The eggshell, for example, is rich in calcium and, after grinding, may be mixed with flour cakes or bread. Already soured wine instead of going straight down the drain, can work well as vinegar in salads.
- Store preferably whole vegetables in the refrigerator. In the case of pineapple, for example, peel, but do not remove the core. Already half that left the avocado should be stored along with the core. Measures thus prevent premature aging food.
- Pay close attention when buying processed foods on sale. Often the expiration date is to be won, or product is of very low quality and the trader is willing to move the issue forward. In practice, because of the short shelf life, they do not even go to the table, are soon discarded (Financial Education, 2006).