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Food waste: There’s an app for that!


Published: Oct 01, 2013

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Now we know technology has been able to solve a lot of problems and the advances in refrigeration, canning and other forms of food preservation is partly the reason that some of us enjoy a bounty of food.

Food waste, however, according to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), aside from being a waste of money, is also an environmental issue. In countries like the U.S. and UK about one third of purchased food is thrown away, and in the U.S., for example, the second largest component of landfills is food, which in turn produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas – 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Although I could find no recent statistics for The Bahamas to guide me, anecdotal evidence suggests we waste a lot of food. You witness the excess food at personal and business gatherings, leftovers at restaurants and at home. The question is how do we get the food from those of us admittedly that have too much to those that have very little and avoid filling up landfills?

Two programmers out of California believe that they have come up with a solution to address part of the problem and have developed the app “Leftoverswap” as a means of allowing people to easily share food with their neighbors. If you have leftover food, you take a picture of the food, post it on the site’s database, and persons in your area can trade food with you, or just take it from you.

Purely out of curiosity, I downloaded the app and so far none of my neighbours have any leftovers they want to share with me.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the work Hands for Hunger is doing in this area but this does not stop small groups assisting on a micro-level, like persons could bring their Sunday leftovers to church to be distributed to persons in the community that would otherwise go without.

Food wastage is a serious problem and cracking this issue could divert landfill waste, translate into reduced waste of water – a big factor in agriculture – and result in better allocation of the resources used in food production like energy, labor and transportation. It could mean a reduction in the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

If it accomplishes nothing else, Leftoverswap has created quite a bit of chatter from the naysayers, to those who love it, to those who believe they can do it better. The founders admit to not really expecting to make any money from it and currently it’s free in the Appstore, but it certainly provides food for thought, pardon the pun.

• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to sbrown@graphitebahamas.com. Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.



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