How Technology Can Reduce Food Waste
With food being so vital for our survival, people have always thought about ways to keep it edible for longer. Threatened by famine, plagues, warfare, and droughts, our ancestors well understood the importance of preserving food for later consumption and used imagination, along with available scientific knowledge, to keep it wholesome as long as they could. To preserve food, people used to dry grains, fruits, and fish and to salt and smoke vegetables and meat. They also learned to immerse fresh vegetables in a liquid solution of salt brine with herbs and seal fruits up in honey or boil them with sugar. And of course, people living in the northern regions utilized snow and ice to prevent food from decaying.
Although we have come a long way since burying meat in snow, the problem of preserving food is persistently still on the agenda. Our meals have become more varied and exquisite; we have exotic, diversified cuisine offered in restaurants and café shops; on the contrary we can subscribe to one of the best meal delivery services and receive individually packaged pre-portioned meals brought directly to our house. That meal delivery service option emphasizes a world of difference between us and our hunting ancestors. The technology we use to preserve food has also become more sophisticated and complex. We have refrigerators, freezers, vacuum sealers unattainable to our forebearers. We have even invented sensors that monitor food’s condition during transportation, and we have learned how to absorb ethylene gas given off by ripening fruits in refrigerators and frozen food lockers.
And yet, the amount of food we are presently wasting would take our forefathers aback. It is truly staggering: according to various sources, around 27 million tons of food per year becomes spoiled and thrown away in America alone. It is about 30 percent of all consumed food in this country, costing it from 161 billion to 218 billion dollars every year. In the United Kingdom, the numbers are equally gloomy. The amount of food waste here is 7.3 million tons, 4.4 million tons of which could have been safely consumed. Every year, every person in the UK wastes 112.6 kgs of food. And what is particularly sad about these kilos of squandered food is that 60 percent of it could have been eaten. When we think about millions of people in the world who starve, the problem of throwing edibles away gains not only a financial but also a moral aspect.
Analysts predict that, unless we minimize our food waste, the situation will get much worse in the future. They estimate that the population on the planet will hit the peak – 9.8 billion – by 2050. The growth of the population will obviously require more food to feed it. To have 9.8 billion people nourished, we will need to produce 70 percent more of food than we are producing now. And considering our bad habit of wasting it, we will need to learn also to throw away less. If we do not master the art of preserving food, we will condemn our future generation to starvation, no matter how much more food we make.
This is not to say, of course, that no attempt to keep food fresh has been made in our times. Quite the contrary, many industries and companies along the whole supply chain have given to the problem serious thought and came up with smart, cutting edge solutions. The latest answer to the problem of food wastage is offered by the services that are becoming increasingly popular among people, namely meal food deliveries. These services spare you the hassle of food shopping and meal planning by delivering to your doorsteps the exact amount of food required to prepare a meal you have chosen from their list of recipes. It is precisely by bringing the right quantity of food to their customers that meal delivery services combat food spoilage. When we shop on our own, we tend to buy more food than we need, even when we have a crystal-clear idea of what we want to cook. Then, we either look for recipes that contain our leftovers or save them for later in the refrigerator. In most cases, we cannot help throwing away unused food.
Meal delivery services safeguard us from overbuying. If the recipe you have picked lists one onion and one carrot, you my stay assured that in a delivered package you will never find any of these vegetables doubled. Like food in some of Beachbody’s workouts, food brought by meal delivery companies is strictly pre-portioned. The strategy of having the amount of food fixed has reduced its waste almost by 62 percent last year.
Concerned to save food along the whole supply chain, some meal delivery services even ask farmers to send them fruit, vegetables, and crops according to customers’ demands. Because people make their orders in advance, meal delivery services know how much food they will require during a week and make a point that this very amount should be brought to them from the fields, not a bigger one. Their store rooms thus do not become filled with unwanted extra food. Working directly with the farmers helps meal delivery services reduce food spoilage in yet another way. They circumvent stores where food often decomposes on the shelves before customers can purchase it. Vegetables, fruits, and crops brought from the farmers directly are distributed among clients in a short period of time, in a strict accordance with a schedule, and, therefore, have little or no chance to rot and reach a rubbish bin before people receive their parcels.
Meal delivery services also fights food spoilage by writing their recipes clearly, in a language understood by any culinary novice. Not cluttered by culinary jargon, that is, by such incomprehensible words as, for example, “caramelize,” “deglaze,” “flambé,” and “sauté,” their recipes are easily followed by people who have no knowledge of culinary rules or culinary concepts. Instructions are so clearly given in these recipes that no meal gets ruined and binned.
Together with other innovative technologies aiming to keep food fresh, meal delivery services actively participate in the combat against food wastage. And they have not said yet their last word in this fight. If, together with adapting our eating habits to the latest technological innovations, we will also fully understand how significant it is for our own survival to waste less food, we will have a better chance of having people well-nourished in the future.