Waste Not Want Not

by ejada on October 6, 2017 - 10:08pm

Here’s a little food for thought… Canada wastes an estimated $31-billion dollar in food each year. That’s a lot of money rotting in landfills.  In the CBC article by Melissa Mancini and Nelisha Vellani, they explore Canada’s enormous size  and cost of food waste, the lack of our government’s legislation and management, and how Canadian organizations have taken a lead to the food waste management problem. The agricultural Minister, Lawrence MacAulay expresses in the article that food waste policy is currently not of priority for the Canadian government. Which, personally is unnerving because food waste is a tame problem, easy solutions, which could prevent environment and resource issues. I am shocked that the government doesn’t want to solve this problem because of the issues associated with food waste on the environment. Below, we look at food waste impacts on resources, such as water and energy, and the effects of food waste on wild life in Canada. In addition, I incorporate course material that is discussed in lecture at the University of Guelph such as, material and discursive power, and the state’s role in resource management and forming legitimacy though resource management.

Food Waste Impacts and Management

Food waste contributes to a significant amount of wasted resources, such as water and energy. It is estimated that Canadians throw out $31-billion dollars of food annually, equivalent to 2% of our GDP (Dawes, 2016). In 2007, Statistics Canada presented that annually, Canadians waste 183 kilograms of solid food per person (Food Waste, 2017). Since the agricultural industry is the world’s largest freshwater consumer and withdraws approximately 70% of the world’s available freshwater (Fed, 2017). It means we are wasting large amounts of water because at the end of the day, the food produced for you and me, are ending up in the trash before it even hits selves; for reasons of not being aesthetically pleasing and/or bruised. In addition, large amounts of energy is being used in the transportation and processing of the food placed on our grocery shelves (Food Waste, 2017). In our course lecture, material power was discussed, which is the control over practices accomplished by the state. Material power could be used in food waste management as a form of resource management, through legislation passed by the state. For example, France recently made headlines by taking a stand against food waste via government policy. France has made it illegal and more difficult to waste food in grocery stores across the country (Mancini and Vellani, 2016). French grocery stores are required to donate edible foods to charities or face fines admitted by the state. Our government has the opportunity to take a similar stance, since Canada has historically operated as a staples economy, to use resources such as water and energy, more efficiently and effectively through food waste management.

Secondly, food waste contributes to wildlife issues because it effects wildlife ecology and behaviour (Newsome and Eeden, 2017). Food waste is a problem because it has become easily accessible to wildlife through poorly secured food stores (Newsome and Eeden, 2017). Accessibility to food waste can change the dietary preferences, behaviour, and ecology of wildlife. Newsome and Eeden 2017, delineate that “on average between 10% and 50% of mammalian predator diets contain food waste, but in some instances, it forms >90%.” For example, in Yellowstone, the closure of dumps lead to high grizzly bear mortality rates; and similar accounts in black bears have been recorded in urban areas (Newscome and Eeden, 2017). These are just a few examples of the various other impacts on wildlife in Canada alone. Our government has a role in changing how Canadians think about food waste and how to better manage waste via its citizens. Simple solutions such as, media coverage on how food waste effects wildlife’s ecological community and behaviours’,’ can change how Canadians think and possibly behave to better manage food waste. The Canadian government can use discursive power to create legitimacy by reinforcing that it cares about Canada’s wildlife, and proper management practices to better mitigate these impacts on wildlife.


In conclusion, my reaction is that government needs to take greater action towards food management through material and discursive power. The CBC article us evidence of a successful policy implement by the French government on food waste management. I believe that through food waste management, we will be able to better reduce resource waste. Therefore, effectively and efficiently manage those resources of freshwater and energy consumption. Many actions can be taken to reduce food waste in Canada, including waste management programs like composting, subsidizing business for proper waste disposal and/or financial penalties if edible food is not donated to a charity. 


Dawes, Terry. (July, 2016). Food Waste in Canada is the Equivalent of 2% of Our GDP. Cantech Letter. Retrieved from: https://www.cantechletter.com/2016/07/food-waste-canada-equivalent-2-gdp/

Fed. (March, 2017). Farming Ourselves Dry. Fed Fed Fed. Retrieved from: https://fedfedfed.com/sliced/farming-ourselves-dry-agriculture-water-waste

Food Waste: The Issue of Food Waste. (2017). Toronto Food Policy Council. Retrieved from: http://tfpc.to/food-waste-landing/food-waste-theissue

Newsome, M. T., & Eeden, M. L. (July, 2017). The Effects of Food Waste on Wildlife and Humans. MDPI. Retrieved from: www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/7/1269/pdf

Mancini, M. and Vellani, M. (October, 2016). A $31B Problem: How Canada Sucks at Reducing Food Waste. CBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-food-waste-1.3813965