Posts Tagged ‘United Kingdom’


Five Simple Things Consumers Can Do to Prevent Food Waste

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By Graham Salinger

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reports that an estimated one-third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption is wasted annually. In the United States, an estimated 40 percent of edible food is thrown away by retailers and households. In the United Kingdom, 8.3 million tons of food is wasted by households each year. To make the world more food secure consumers need to make better use of the food that is produced by wasting less.

Food waste remains a large factor contributing to food insecurity around the world, but consumers can help reduce the amount of food that is wasted each year. (Photo credit: Back to the Garden Inc)

Today, Nourishing the Planet presents five ways that consumers can help prevent food waste.

1. Compost: In addition to contributing to food insecurity, food waste is harmful to the environment. Rotting food that ends up in landfills releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, that is a major contributor to global climate change and can negatively affect crop yields. Composting is a process that allows food waste to be converted into nutrient rich organic fertilizer for gardening.

Compost in Action: In Denver, the city contracts with A1 Organics, a local organic recycling business, to take people’s waste and turn it into compost for local farmers. Similarly, a new pilot program in New York City allows patrons to donate food scraps to a composting company that gives the compost to local farmers.

2. Donate to food banks: Donating food that you don’t plan to use is a great way to save food while helping to feed the needy in your community.



Love Food, Hate Waste: UK Campaign Promotes Understanding and Preventing Food Waste

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By Amanda Strickler

Food waste is a global problem. According to food waste expert and Sophie Prize Winner Tristram Stuart, salvaging 25 percent of the food waste from the U.S., the U.K., and Europe could rid the global population of malnutrition. And around the globe, rising global food prices and increasing income inequality are making it hard for many people to afford to feed themselves. New information on food waste and how to prevent it, however, is becoming more readily available and spurring responsible consumerism. In the U.K., the Love Food, Hate Waste initiative reaches out to consumers with a user-friendly website supplying readers with waste-prevention shopping tips, recipes for leftovers, and facts on global food waste.

Image credit: Love Food Hate Waste

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the U.K. provides research and resources for waste management, recycling, and resource efficiency. In response to concern about rising food prices, food waste, and food security in 2007-2008, the U.K. government began a new campaign under WRAP called Love Food, Hate Waste. This campaign aims to give individuals in the U.K. insight into the problem of food waste, while also providing solutions to prevent food it from occurring in restaurants, schools, households.

The campaign’s website connects consumers to the food waste issue by providing facts about food waste in the U.K. This information, provided through research conducted by WRAP, empowers readers first through food waste education, and then by offering solutions to prevent food waste. WRAP has even generated statistics which quantify the carbon emissions impact of UK food waste: “If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.” Since most consumers have general knowledge of carbon emissions, presenting the impact of food waste—a lesser-known issue—in this light helps readers to put the topic into perspective.



WWF Report– Soya and the Cerrado: Brazil’s forgotten jewel

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By Philip Newell

According to a recent report released by WWF UK, the increased use of soy beans has had painful consequences for the Cerrado region of Brazil. The Cerrado is the unique savannah south of the Amazon Rainforest. This landscape, once covering a quarter of Brazil, holds an amazing 5 percent of all life on Earth. Since the prehistoric days when there was only one continent, this grassy expanse has harbored not only 11,000 flowering plants (nearly half are found only in the Cerrado) but also countless animal species, including the giant anteater and maned wolf. This rich history also imbues the land with cultural significance, as it has played a key role for over 10,000 years in the culture and religion of a variety of indigenous Brazilian societies.

This rock painting in the Cerrado region provides evidence of human life in the area 12,000 years ago. (Photo Credit: WWF Brazil)

Currently, however, the Cerrado is being converted into farmland for the express purpose of growing soybeans (soya). In only 15 years, production of soy has doubled, now covering an area almost the size of Egypt worldwide. In Brazil, there are 24.1 million hectares planted with soy, equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom. Such a prolific conversion has devastated the natural biodiversity of the region. A recent survey suggests that by 2008, almost half of the original vegetation cover had been lost, disappearing at a rate significantly greater than the Amazon rainforest. This also has significant consequences for climate change. According to WWF, in the six year period between 2002 and 2008, land-use change in the Cerrado released 275 million tons of CO2 per year-more than half the total emissions for the United Kingdom.

A whopping 80 percent of the soy grown worldwide is used for feeding cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock, according to the report. Current trends suggest that developing countries will continue to increase their meat consumption, until they match levels of developed countries. If soy remains one of the main components of livestock feed, then soy production will increase. Since most land planted with soy has already achieved maximum production levels (only the Indian region has room for improving yields), demand for land for soy planting will grow.



Ambitious Plan Launches to Establish Bee Corridors Across the U.K.

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By Matt Styslinger

Like the United States, the United Kingdom has seen honeybee populations plummet in the last couple of years. The Co-operative Group—a U.K.-based consumer cooperative—has launched an awareness campaign around the issue, and a comprehensive plan of action. The US$1.2 million campaign, called Plan Bee, includes the establishment of long rows of bee-friendly habitats across the country to act as bee corridors. The corridors will also support other key pollinator species like bumble bees, hover flies, butterflies, and moths.

Plans to establish bee corridors are in the works in the U.K. in an effort to reverse the trend of alarming declines in bee populations (Photo Credit: The Co-operative Group)

“We want people to understand there’s a problem,” says Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative. “And we also want to empower people to thinking there’s something they can do about it.” The Plan Bee campaign is promoting pollinator-friendly gardens in urban areas, distributing some 900,000 packets of wildflower seeds, and supporting members of the Co-operative to become beekeepers.

“[Bees] pollinate a vast number of crops. They pollinate all the strawberries, all the raspberries, apples, pears… They’re absolutely essential to agriculture,” says Senior Technical Manager Simon Press. “On our own farms this forthcoming season, we’re going to be putting wildflower seed mixes onto the headlands of the fields to encourage the bees.” Honeybees pollinate as much as one-third of the food grown in the U.K.

In the U.S., commercial beekeepers on the East Coast began reporting dramatic declines in their honeybee colonies in 2006. Scientists have dubbed the mysterious phenomenon colony collapse disorder (CCD), and it has spread to most states. Overall, annual losses of managed bee colonies in the U.S. are around 30 percent. The U.K. is now seeing similar losses. “We’re now losing between 20 and 30 percent of our entire stock every winter,” says Paddy Wallace of Quince Honey Farm in Devon County in southwestern England. With 11,000 farm holdings in the county, agriculture is an important industry. “A shortage of bees means not just a shortage of honey, but everything else as well,” says Wallace.



In Case You Missed It: The Week In Review

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We are writing after a very busy week that includes the very successful launch of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet in Pretoria, South Africa.


(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The event that was hosted in partnership with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, FANRPAN Chief Executive Officer, and Danielle Nierenberg, Nourishing the Planet co-Project Director, joined local agricultural experts—including Sithembile Ndema, State of the World 2011 contributing author and FANRPAN Program Manager—to discuss agricultural innovations that are working to alleviate hunger in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Other highlights from the week include: This week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV research intern Kaia Clarke discusses how with the increased prevalence of cell phones worldwide, farmers are gaining even more access to the information they need to improve their harvests and get a fair price for their crops at local markets.

Check out this interview with Ronnie Coffman, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics and the director of Cornell University’s Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project. DRRW has recently been awarded a $40 million, five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) to address the threat of the fungal infection known as rust that is especially devastating to wheat harvests.

This week’s innovation features he new comic book series “ShujaazFM” which means ‘heroes’ in Sheng, a combination of Swahili and English. The free monthly insert in the Saturday Nation newspaper, a daily syndicated FM radio and TV program, is teaching youth about sustainable agriculture practices from protecting chickens from New Castle disease to fish farming.

Did you have a favorite post this week? What do you hope we’ll write about next week? Let us know in the comments!

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


The Opportunities and the Risks of Climate Change

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A 3 minute animated video from the British organization, Farming Futures, illustrates how eco-agricultural farming practices like permaculture and composting are not only better for the environment, they are also better for farmers and their business. According to the video, “there are all kinds of renewable technologies, including biogmas, solar and anaerobic digesters.” “They can provide an extra income stream to your farm as well as cut back on emissions.” Although the video is aimed at farmers in the United Kingdom, the innovations it promotes can benefit farmers—and ecosystems— all over the world.