Billions of dollars’ worth of food are wasted in Canada every year — paradoxically, many Canadian households continue to struggle with food insecurity. Bulk Basket, a new reduced-waste grocery store, could simultaneously combat hunger and food wastage here in Saskatoon.
Food wastage is a global crisis — about a third of the food in the world that’s produced for human consumption is thrown away or lost. To contextualize this statistic, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, if food waste were a country, it would rank only behind the United States and China in greenhouse gas emissions.
Many countries have stepped up to the plate in response to the global food wastage crisis. France has made it illegal for grocery stores to waste food, forcing French stores to donate unsold food to charities and food banks. Canada has a bad record and is culpable for $31 billion of food that’s wasted every year, according to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International.
Ironically, one in eight Canadian households faced issues of food insecurity in 2011. The Canadian government has been reluctant to legislate sustainable practices in the food industry. However, zero-waste stores have surfaced across Canada to tackle food wastage. Jan. 14 saw the grand opening of Saskatoon’s first waste-conscious, plastic-bag-free bulk-food store.
Bulk Basket is certainly a breath of fresh air in Saskatoon — it offers a sustainable alternative to grocery-store giants like Walmart and Superstore. In addition to filling your cupboard with goodness, Bulk Basket pledges to minimize unnecessary packaging and waste for the local community.
The store offers hundreds of pantry basics and speciality items, primarily in package-free bulk form. The store encourages customers to bring their own containers. If you forget your containers, Bulk Basket conveniently offers compostable paper bags and reusable organic-cotton containers.
Evidently, Bulk Basket will play an invaluable role in reducing food wastage in Saskatoon — the store’s pledge to minimize waste for local communities may also help to relieve food insecurity. Initiatives to reduce waste have a direct impact on food security, as they increase the general availability of food at the producer, regional and community levels.
There is one downside to Bulk Basket — the location is extremely inconvenient. The store is located near the Saskatoon airport, which is less than ideal for non-commuters. But, when you really think about it, the vast majority of the grocery stores in Saskatoon are awkward to get to if you don’t have a car.
The whereabouts of Bulk Basket should not detract from the fact that the store will make it so much easier for Saskatonians to live zero-waste lifestyles.
Photo: Lauren Klassen