Sermon February 6, 2022: On Reducing Food Waste
Luke 5:1-11 Jesus calls his disciples to fish for people
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God”
Our story today from the Gospel of Luke is a familiar and comforting one. Its a call story. It is a story where Jesus asks his disciples to leave their way of life - their jobs as fishermen. Jesus is inviting them into a new way of life - where they will “fish” for people - not fish!
It is also a story of trust and great abundance. The disciples who have fished for many hours have caught nothing. Jesus tells them to cast the nets once more. And this time the catch is huge. So many fish that they must call for help - and still the boats begin to sink. Its a miracle.
With Jesus there is abundance.
As Canadians we are accustomed to abundance - perhaps even complacent about it. I have been thinking about this abundance especially in relation to food. Cost of food, food insecurity, food supply chain shortages, food waste etc have all been making news headlines lately. We are seeing inflation rates at highs we have not seen for 30 years.
Remember at the beginning of the pandemic when you could not find toilet paper or Lysol wipes and the shelves were empty of pasta, rice and soup?
For many of us these empty shelves were something we had never seen and we panicked. For others who have lived through times of economic depression or war or civil unrest these empty shelves might have been an uncomfortably familiar sight.
As Canadians we have come to expect that we will be able to purchase what we need and want to eat. But that's not true for every Canadian. It is estimated that over 840,000 Canadians seek help from food banks every month. Food insecurity is affecting more and more people. It means there are hungry children and people forced to make choices between food and shelter.
People are worrying about how to feed their families. A recent poll from the Angus Reid Institute found that 3 in 5 Canadian families or 57% say that it is currently difficult to feed their families. In 2019 the number was 36%. And people are pessimistic that things will get worse.
Its hard not to feel this way when wages are not keeping pace with inflation, when costs for everything are going up. Predictions are that it will cost a family of 4 almost $1000.00 more per year for groceries than it did a year ago. Its a staggering number - $14,767 for this year.
So what can we do?
An important place to start is in food waste reduction. Reduction of food waste is a climate change issue, it is a social issue and it is a faith issue. Our scriptures remind us time and again to take only what you need - take only what you will use. Trying to take more or hoard never turns out well. Remember the manna in the wilderness!
In November of 2019 the Federal Government announced a Food Waste Reduction Challenge. Part of the program is to encourage small and medium sized businesses to come up with innovative strategies to reduce food waste and green house gas emissions. 8% of greenhouse gases worldwide are the result of food waste.
Canadians waste food. We waste alot of food. According to government estimates more than half of Canada’s food supply is wasted annually and 49.5 billion dollars of that is avoidable. This is another staggering number. And food is wasted all along the way from farm to plate through production, processing, distribution, retail, food-service and at home.
This federal challenge is part of our Government’s commitment to the “ United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which sets a target to ‘halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains. Including post-harvest losses by 2030.”
So are we greedy or just unaware and what are we going to do? What can we do? There are things we can do - basic everyday things. How about?
Plan ahead to reduce food waste - plan your meals for a week at a time.
Be a smart shopper.
Store foods the right way to reduce food waste.
Stock your pantry.
Use leftovers wisely.
Make a list and stick to it when you shop!
Try composting or participate in your green bin program.
Start your own garden.
Eat out wisely and ethically.
There are lots of websites dedicated to helping reduce food waste. Try the National Zero Waste Council or stopfoodwaste.org. Or look at Government websites - at the municipal, provincial or federal level.
And if you are someone who loves an app, I read a story lately that is for you!
According to CTV news “Canadians are flocking to food rescue apps to reduce grocery bills and waste.” These apps are being used by restaurants and grocery stores to sell close to expired or blemished or left over prepared meals at a significant discount. The article cited the apps Too Good To Go, Flashfood and Feedback. And the savings are huge - often at least 50%.
Grocery stores are responsible for at least a quarter of our country’s food waste. Grocery stores will mark down items, donate to charity and send the food to farms as animal feed. The app Flashfood specifically targets grocery stores and they have kept more than13.5 million kilograms of food out of landfills and have saved their users 90 million dollars.
Second harvest is a charity that redistributes items to people in need - including food - you have probably seen their trucks - maybe you have supported them through donations or food drives. They estimate that 60% of food produced in Canada is wasted - that is 35.5 million tonnes of food. And here is the zinger - 32% or 11.2 million tonnes of that lost food is edible and could be redirected to people in need.
So are we just greedy consumers who want and want and want . Or are we unaware? Maybe we are so accustomed to going to grocery stores and seeing full shelves that we do not think about food waste.
We throw away food - we neglect to use our leftovers - we buy too much & might be lazy.
Food waste is a big problem in Canada. It is a climate change issue, a social and economic issue and it is a spiritual issue.
But we can change. We can make a difference. We can reduce our personal amount of food waste and we can vote with our grocery budget.
Very soon we will enter Lent - a time when we look critically at how we are living and how we are in relationship with God. Maybe this Lent is a time to commit to reducing your personal amount of food waste.