From Seed to Plate

Food waste: From Seed to Plate

Global Challenges 201


In  retrospect, when looking back on our groups progress and vision, one has to first assess the  amount of food waste that is generated across the value chain from seed to plate in One of our goals was to highlight points in these processes where changes could be made in order to see a reduction in the amount of food that is wasted along the lineage. Our goal with these strategies is to reduce Food Waste in Canada by 80% by the year 2050.


To reach the masses one of the more effective approaches, is establishing ethos: that is a type of credibility where your audience trusts and is convinced by the message that you are delivering.

We decided to begin our regime for food waste mitigation with legislation, as we thought that it having the most influence on farming, business and household policies, and would important because this is a system that catalyzes the influences along our journey from Seed to Plate. Through legislation we found that there weren’t any laws in Canada that dealt with food waste. However, there was Bill C-231 that was introduced into Parliament early last year in February 2016, that sadly failed in October 2016. The Bill failed because some members of parliament felt that it mimicked the carbon tax and would be too intrusive to daily life of Canada. The Bill was introduced to bring awareness to food waste in Canada,  establish National Food Waste Awareness Day, as well as develop a National strategy on how to combat food waste. With this Bill, I was able to add some amendments that aligned with our plans on mitigating food waste from seed to plate. The bulk of our amendments are: The complete ban of food waste in grocery stores throughout Canada; edible food items must be donated to grocery stores and hot kitchens when they are no longer able to be sold in store-thus adopting the “Supermarket Recovery Program”,which is already being done in Quebec. In Order to avoid lawsuits, we also implore for contracts to be signed between the giving and receiving parties of donated food; in that food is given in good faith, and well inspected so as to prevent vicarious liability in case of sickness. Another amendment is that compost facilities must be constructed in Canadian cities with populations greater than 100,000 people; along with compost, innovations towards garbage to energy facilities will be carried out in; thus lowering landfill waste. Farms and Food Production Sites must: Sell/donate food that is not being sent away to retailers. Additionally, factors regarding education and research have been added to learn and teach about strategies and accountability.


In Canada approximately 10% of food waste is generated from the agricultural industry, and in 2007 we lost approximately 600,000 tonnes of food through framing. Over the course of ten years we will have lost one pyramid of Giza’s worth of food from agriculture. To combat this, we proposed two solutions, one in crop residue, and the other in compost. Crop residue is the unusable part of the plant; the roots and  stem of the plant. Ordinarily, This residue is either  tilled back into the soil, or sorted out from the usable part of the plant. However, it could be repurposed for feeding livestock during wintering periods. Generally, livestock are fed traditional hay, but we could cut down on our food waste and spending by using crop residue. The use of crop residue is not worse for the animals from a health standpoint-not changing the birth weight of calves or the change in weight of the cow. Therefore, repurposing crop residue can aid in both providing nutrients for livestock, and reducing the food waste created during farming.  The second solution is the establishment of compost facilities in major farming areas in Canada. The creation of waste from farming is inevitable, however, in using a facility like that already constructed in Calgary, we could reduce waste from farming by 145,000 metric tons per year. These facilities would be placed in areas of highest concentration of farms to maximize their efficiency. The fertilizer produced, could either be sold for profit, or used on the farms, further reducing farming expenses by eliminating the need for farmers to purchase this item.


19% of Canadian food waste is generated from the business side of the food waste spectrum. Nine percent of that is taken by restaurants, and this is how we can solve it. It is hard for anyone who makes money through the food industry to have any incentive to alleviate food waste when there is cost attached.  If you can turn that cost into a profit however, then people start talking The distribution of national food waste is spent in the following categories; 4% is commingled recyclable bottles and cans, 19% is in recyclable paper, packaging and cardboard.  Both which have sustainable and profitable bottle depots and recycling programs to make sure this 23% is taken care of.  With 10% straight waste, and 67% in compost, that is 77% left over.

So, if we still have all this heading to the trash, we would need to a make sure they sort the garbage and make it profitable for that to happen. A solution for all this to be sorted is a tax break for using each government system that we already have in place. Recycling programs, which are in major cities across Canada, are very accessible for small and large business.         

Would other business work as a solution? Yes, and not only am I going to give you an example, I will create one for you. We have 2 major companies with plans to grow in Canada, where they burn waste for energy cleanly Enerkem and Covanta. Covanta being birthed in the States with plans of the vice president, who has said that they plan on adding more facilities in Canada as the opportunities present themselves. Then Enerkem, who are new to the biofuel business, based out of Edmonton, Alberta. Both clean and have been presented with awards for being clean.                                       

When dealing with the compost, I’ve had an idea for a business for a while, which is to start a company around an idea of which I put towards the Love YYC Resilient Business Challenge. Where we would take businesses buildings (ex Detroit) or just floors of the buildings and warehouses (ex Calgary) that have been desolate and abandoned from industry’s going under from the down turn of the economy and turn them into indoor gardens. These gardens would grow food, of all types, which would involve hydroponic gardening. The idea being, you could have 2-10 floors of a building or a large warehouse and section it off for different types of humid areas and lighting, having the maximized growth, without the diminished returns of a farm. Turning a profit on the goods produced here, while giving jobs to the local populous, and taking areas of the city which may never be used again, and utilizing the space. Ideally, vertical integration, without the negatives.  All this while doing something sustainable for the world and city you are reclaiming.  While growing food locally not having to expect loss during transportation, which is another huge chunk of the food waste in Canada nationally making business into growth, and growth into business. Sweden has already started this idea with a building that is currently being constructed or this purpose and, Japan does this very well, with what they call Pink Farms-same idea without the reclamation. Using the compost right in my floors of farms, making the growth more natural and healthy!


Grocery stores have a lot of food that goes to waste and they can not donate it without having liability issues. This one small sector takes up 10% of the food that is wastes in Canada. Looking at a store in Red Deer, we see that in a year, the store throws out approximately 129 times worth of food. What a Red Deer Grocery Store is doing is re-purposing the food, through West Coast Reduction. West Coast Reduction takes food that has gone bad, and extracts the proteins and fats from it, turning it into, dog food, dish soap, laundry soap, etc.They have made it so that they can reuse food that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill. They have been doing two things with the ugly food; one each department has an ugly food section that is sold with a discount, and  the second being some of the ugly produce being made into fresh juice that they sell in store. They donate the frozen and dry food that is damaged (ex. a dent in the can)  they will donate it to the food bank. Ordering daily instead of weekly they will order the amount that they sold so they have the products they need and have minimal stock in the back. Loblaws has made is to their chain of store can have ugly food sections and give a discount up to 30% off. A “No Waste” Grocery Store opened in Ottawa, customers bring in reusable containers so they take what they need to bring home, this is weighed out and charged accordingly.


As we examined food waste and its progression from seed to plate, it was discovered that the majority of food that is wasted occurs in households. 47 percent of the food that is wasted in Canada, comes from our homes. This is estimated to be about $28 worth of food each week- $1456 each year. In canada, we have access to a relatively accessible, and abundant supply of food. This makes wasting food easy; we see it as invaluable when we cant finish it, or don’t have time to prepare it. These wasteful acts not only put a negative strain on our goal of feeding billion people, but they also contribute to waste on a vast scale. From the resources it requires to produce these goods, to the manpower and energy that is required to distribute them along the value chain, food waste, is detrimental to economies as well as the environment, therefore the wasting of it should be addressed. In parts of south Korea, district officials have  kick started a program, where automated garbage machines are being used to mitigate food waste. Residents are required to scan their identification card before their waste can be dropped in. Upon dropping their waste into the bin, the weight of what is thrown out is recorded, and the individual receives a bill at the end of the month (1 won per kilo) for the amount of food that they have thrown away. Before this, everyone paid the same flat fee for disposal of food waste, and nobody had any incentive to watch how much waste they were producing. This program is providing a reason for people to minimize the amount of food that they are wasting, and our group believes that this provides a good model for what we should be doing in Canada. Some further solutions that we believed to be effective ways to mitigate household waste include: shopping with the intent to eat everything that has been purchased, designating spending to what is actually needed, checking what’s in the fridge and cupboards before going shopping, and learning to re-purpose leftovers, and donating food that hasn’t been used.


On this journey from production to consumption, we have have provided viable solutions that have either been put in use, or that  we firmly believe will help solve the problem of food waste here in Canada by 2030. This time window gives us 20 years to perfect our solution and present it on the world stage, providing an example for all nations to adopt or follow in hopes of mitigating food waste. The fight against World Hunger begins with the Fight against Food Waste.


Bill C-231 Revised