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The agriculture ministry estimates 22 million tons of food get thrown out by consumers, restaurants and supermarkets each year in Japan. What are your thoughts on this?

14 Comments

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14 Comments
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The food should be donated to a food bank. An NPO called Second Harvest is already doing just that in Ueno.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My thoughts are that this statistic is misleading. Our local supermarket does throw out a lot of produce that is past its expiry date, but this waste is mulched down into compost that is given for free to local farmers who supply the supermarket, ensuring better quality fruit and vegetables the next season.The food isn't wasted, it is reprocessed as fertilizer.

I also regularly buy from the "discount" shelf in the store where stuff approaching its "best before" date is stored, if possible. For example if I'm making a stew I don't need super-fresh ingredients, so a slightly less firm tomato is just as good as a one that is slightly softer.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It is a problem every where. But there should be structures to give a good use for that food (for homeless shelters, food industrialization and recycling).

The problem in Japan mostly is that people are so"paranoid" about the freshness and "cleanness" of the food that is idiotic. And the regulations and rules are very strict in this matter also, so it is hard for a restaurant or supermarket to donate, "old food". A social and law revision is very much needed.

Also... teach your goddamn kids to finish what they are served!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Cut back on some of the menus on the over-impressive corporate and government banquets, or allow staff to take some of the food home, if they can eat it. So much is wasted there. Review expiry dates of products, some food does last longer. Be more flexible on the donations to food banks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A comprehensive study should be conducted to study the losses in the food system and set national goals for waste reduction. Businesses should seize opportunities to streamline their own operations, reduce food losses and save money and consumers can waste less food by shopping wisely, knowing when food goes bad, buying produce that is perfectly edible even if it's less cosmetically attractive, cooking only the amount of food they need, and eating their leftovers. In the end it's time to realize that we seriously consider a suite of coordinated solutions including changes in supply-operations, enhanced market incentives, increase public awareness and adjustments in consumer behavior.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not a major issue. The reason why starvation exists is due to logistics, not scarcity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And then there are the veggies that never make it outta the fields! An awful lot of produce never even gets to a market!

I see more of these less than perfect veggies at local michi no eki's but not as much as they could sell

0 ( +0 / -0 )

allow staff to take some of the food home, if they can eat it

I would LOVE to bring a tupperware dish to my school every time they serve curry and take home as much as I can, but the official policy is to throw it away. Tears are shed, man, tears are shed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My daughter used to work for a famous bakery and i asked her about the leftovers. She said some of the bread and pastries that didnt sell could be taken home by workersthe others were given to a pig farm as food. So its not like it just goes into a landfill.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I read that the figure in the USA is 133 billion pounds or 66,500,000 tons — 31 percent of the total food supply and worth about $161.6 billion. If it was saved, it would reduce global food prices, therefore although 22,000,000 tons is a disgrace, it is still fairly modest. Of course, individuals in the USA also consume much more and consume products that require far more energy in and create far more pollution out, i.e. far more meat products.

Until recently, not to waste food was ingrained in children (excuse the pun), so as not to disrespect the farmers who grew it. It was traditional not to waste a single grain of rice.

Where is the breakdown of where most waste is happening? I suspect it is still not in families.

I agree with the comments that a greater problem exists in the unreasonable standards and demands for "perfect" products, which also means they are too expensive but, even moreso, in the excessive packaging of it (what is the point of having a natural "organic" vegetable, when it comes wrapped in two layers of plastic which is then going to be sent to pollute landfill sites?).

It's a problem created by an economic system that does not allow people the time to enjoy the "slow life" and profits from pushing them to convenience fast foods.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sounds low. I believe the number in the UK is higher with a far smaller population.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When you live in a country where presentation is king, it sad when less than beautiful produce goes to waste. Additionally, you can't have this culture of convenience without massive waste.

There is no easy solution, but I would say something along the lines of creating incentives for restaurants who waste very little (tax breaks, etc) based on the amount of garbage collected from their shop...but that opens up huge loopholes of taking home trash or illegal dumping...

On the flipside, When I worked in a restaurant I was told they had to toss leftovers because staff would purposefully cook too much so they could get regular free meals... So I can kind of understand the logic from a business point of view.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seems like a lot, but not knowing where the waste occurs, home consumers, hotels, restaurants, shops, caterers, middle men, producers, it is hard to make a sensible comment. In my home the policy is to avoid waste at any cost and left overs are generally not thrown out but consumed the next day or the day after, or the day after that. All homes have excellent refrigerators, but of course some foods keep longer than others.

To sustain our lifestyle waste is an inevitable evil. It occurs not only in the food supply system but probably even more in non edible consumer products: electronics, household appliances, automobiles, energy consumption, to mention a few. To assure gourmet and safe standards food gets discarded, but not all thrown out food is wasted, as others have pointed out. A lot of is returned to the soil it was raised from. But how much of the 22 million tons I don't know. And again how much of non food products is 'wasted' every year and sustain an ever producing industry for hungry consumers and what percentage is recycled or reused is food for thought.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It shows that Japan has come a long way and its people live ridiculously opulent lifestyles. If you've ever gone to a company drinking party in Japan, you'll see that nobody is thinking about malnourished children in Africa. Huge amounts of food are left on plates. It's a "normal" developed country.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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