* This post is part of an ongoing series, "Food Waste Around the Globe." To see all related posts, click here.
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany states that 1/8th of all groceries get thrown in the trash and each person throws out 82kg of food each year according to a study conducted by the University of Suttgart. The reason for why there is so much food tossed each year? Analysts suggest it is simply because people are detached from where their food originally comes from; not understanding the amount of energy and resources it takes to produce food.
Ilse Aigner, the Minister of Agriculture in Germany, wants to reduce this waste in half by 2025 and declared a countrywide food waste initiative in March 2012. Over 11 million kg of food was thrown away during that year and the Minister blames it on the fact that the public has adopted a culture of abundance that leads to a wasteful mentality. An alarming sixty percent of the food that was thrown away was linked to private households, while 20 percent of the waste came from grocery stores and 17 percent from larger food dining services such as cafeterias and restaurants.
One of the initiatives launched to support the food waste reduction goal was a public awareness campaign with the slogan “Too Good for the Bin.” The website has several useful resources, including the proper storing times and methods for different food types. The organization suggests preserving bread, for instance, in a breadbox or clay bin because it will keep it from drying out faster. They also suggest removing crumbs from the breadbox because it will keep mold and other bacteria from growing. Another helpful tip is that it is better to buy whole pieces of cheese rather than pre-sliced or shredded cheese because it will stay fresh and edible for up to three weeks as opposed to within a week. For more storage tips click here. (If you need an easy language translation, we recommend using Google Chrome.)
Supermarkets and local businesses in Germany are also doing their part in order to prevent food waste. For example, the first package-free supermarket, Unverpackt (Unwrapped), in Germany has opened its doors to provide vegetables, fruits, and other food products completely fully liberated from any type of plastic packaging or other sealed packaging that ends up in the landfill. In order for the customer to purchase items, they must bring their own containers, borrow some from the store, or carry groceries in a bag made from recycled paper. This helps to prevent waste at the start of consumption because consumers can choose how much of the food product they want! It’s an excellent prevention solution to an on-going consumer issue.