5 TED Talks That Will Make You Stop Wasting Food

fresh fruit and vegetables

We need to stop wasting food.

How is it that we can manufacture driverless cars, invent technology that allows you to pay with your face and find a way to relocate to another planet, yet solving the problem of world hunger still eludes us?

Although we saw a steady decline for more than a decade, world hunger is again on the rise.

Right now, more than 800 million people are suffering from severe malnutrition worldwide and about 36 million die annually from lack of food.

If there wasn’t enough food to go around, that would be one thing. But that’s very much not the case. According to Food Tank, 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year.

That means a third of all food produced globally is ending up in the garbage. And a lot of it is perfectly good food too, as you’ll see in the TED talks below.

The Time to Stop Wasting Food is Now

Maybe we can’t solve the hunger crisis in India or Africa, but we can start by not wasting food at home. By shopping more mindfully and eating less take-out, we can ensure the groceries we buy end up on the table and not in the garbage.

From there, we can look at making a difference in our communities. World hunger is a big problem, but if we all commit to doing something, together we can effect change. It’s about noticing a gap and finding a way to fill it.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have no idea where to start, these TED talks are all full of ideas worth spreading. Take inspiration from them and make a difference in your school or town or neighborhood.

1. The Global Food Waste Scandal by Tristram Stuart

Tristram Stuart first learned about the global food waste scandal as a 15-year-old pig farmer in Sussex. He sought scraps from his school kitchen as well as the local greengrocer and baker to feed his charges.

Tristam quickly realized that a lot of the food he received was actually fit for human consumption. In this talk he dives deep into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.

2. Why Are We (Still) Wasting Food by Marc Zornes

Marc’s love of food began at the age of six or seven when his parents and grandparents brought him into the kitchen and shared the family recipes with him. They also taught him to respect the food that made it to the table.

When he discovered that about one third of all restaurant food is wasted, he knew he had to do something. Marc founded Winnow to help the hospitality sector cut food waste using technology. Now he’s encouraging entrepreneurs and investors to follow his example.

3. Waste No Food by Kiran Sridhar

Never assume you’re too young to make a difference. Sixteen-year-old Kiran Sridhar created an app that connects leftovers from dozens of restaurants and grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area directly with shelters for the hungry and homeless. Waste No Food effectively closes the distribution gap between donors and recipients by connecting them directly within seconds.

Note: His original TED talk has been marked private, so I replaced it with this talk for now.

4. How College Students Are Fighting Food Waste by Cam Pascual

Once a jaded college student, Cam Pascual became passionate about the issue of food waste while working two juxtaposed jobs, one helping struggling families to find their next meal and the other cleaning up at her college canteen, where she saw perfectly good food being thrown away.

Together with some friends, Cam started the Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit that unites college students across the country in recovering the surplus, unsold food from food businesses and donating it to hunger-fighting nonprofits.

5. Let’s Really Feed the World by Adam Smith

Adam Smith is the founder and co-director of The Real Junk Food Project, a community interest company that aims to abolish waste food through a ‘Pay-As You-Feel’ concept. Customers can choose to pay whatever they feel the food is worth and in whatever way they choose.

People wash windows, do the dishes and even perform maintenance in return for their meal. What started off as one unassuming café in Leeds has now expanded to other locations across the UK as well as into Europe and even Australia.

Nutritious Food for Everyone, Everywhere

Last week Wednesday (16 October) was World Food Day. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, collective action across 150 countries has made the day one of the most celebrated on the UN calendar.

Joint and individual efforts by governments, businesses, NGOs, the media, and general public promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger. More importantly, World Food Day highlights the need to ensure healthy diets for all.

Stop Wasting Food With SA Harvest 

We all need to make a point of supporting those organisations that are working to alleviate food waste. Here in South Africa, SA Harvest has made it their mission to eliminate hunger and food waste through education and the redistribution of quality surplus food.

Based on Australia’s highly successful OzHarvest, our local initiative is sure to have a hugely positive impact on the people they’re serving as well as the environment. If you’re not lucky enough to call this neck of the woods home, see if you can find something similar where you are.

Figuring out how to stop wasting food isn’t rocket science. Even kindergarteners could come up with a workable game plan. We might not have say over supermarkets’ sell-by date laws, but we can start by not wasting food at home.

Don’t buy food if you’re not sure you’re going to use it. If you already have food in the fridge, then don’t order take out. Leftovers from dinner should be eaten for lunch or gifted to someone in need. They should not end up in the bin.

Easy peasy.