Food for Thought

Have you ever opened your fridge and thought, “What am I going to do with all the food? Can we manage to eat it all before its expiry date?” If you have, then you should definitely look at the following numbers provided by the World Food Programme:

828 million people go to bed hungry every night

49 million people in 49 countries are teetering on the edge of famine

Realising the catastrophic situation, all the United Nations Member States agreed that ‘eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development,’  adopting, on  25th September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two out of the 17 Goals refer directly to the global issue reflected in the above-mentioned numbers: Goal 1No poverty, the aim of which is ‘ to end poverty in all its forms everywhere,’ and Goal 2Zero hunger that is expected to ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.’

A striking contrast. Links to the images on Europeana: image 1, image 2.

The European Union has taken action as well, establishing the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste providing key ideas for food waste reduction. Furthermore, it has come up with the Farm to Fork Strategy aimed at placing food systems on a sustainable path, a process that will benefit consumers, producers, climate and the environment. Among its main challenges you can see ensuring sustainable food production and food security, promoting sustainable food consumption and reducing food loss and waste. Watch the video to learn more about Farm2Fork.

Back to Your Fridge

According to the Eurostat, in 2020

around 127 kg of food waste per inhabitant were generated in the EU
households generated 55 % of food waste, accounting for 70 kg per inhabitant.

How can we reduce food waste? There are a few simple steps to take:

  • Make a shopping list and stick to it not to buy more than you need;
  • Store your food wisely following the idea of ‘first in, first out’ – every time you put a new product into your fridge, move the old ones to the front and eat them first;
  • Check the dates: the ‘best before’ date may mean food that is still safe to eat but do not use any food after its ‘use by’ date has expired (you can read more about it here);
  • Give ugly fruit and vegetables a chance: they are ugly but tasty and often cheaper; if you buy them, they will not be wasted;
  • Love your leftovers – here you can find some easy tips on how to do it effectively;
  • Share your food – look for a community fridge in your area and, instead of throwing away, leave what you cannot eat to those in need. You can start with the map or search locally – community fridges are gaining popularity so probably there is one located nearby.

Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry – Pope Francis

Food on Europeana

Europeana constitutes a rich source of information on the topic of food and eating habits throughout history. You will definitely enjoy reading the following blog posts: What Is the Real Palaeo Diet and Who Invented Bread? and Pizza: a Slice of Migration History. Do you know where the potato originated? Which fruit is known as ‘fruit of the angels’? Which food is called God’s food? Check out the answers to the questions in the Edible Plants from Americas exhibition. Having found some surprising information when reading Elixirs, Tonics, Diets and Cornflakes: Peddling Health During the 20th Century and  Maggi blog posts, I highly recommend them as well.

Europeana educators have also prepared some ready-to use ideas you can use with your students to educate them on good food choices and zero waste policy. Why don’t you check out the following learning scenarios:


By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador

Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Nationalmuseet Sweden.

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