Whether you’re ordering in a takeaway or an online grocery delivery, there is a worryingly excessive amount of waste that comes along with that. As we become more aware of the limitations of our climate and our imminent, irreversible destruction of it, finding alternative ways to deal with food is becoming a huge (or at least should be) part to play.
America is estimated to waste 150,000 tons of food PER DAY, and this doesn’t even touch on the fact that almost 160,000 shipping containers of plastic was exported and dumped on third world countries in 2018. This is clearly not sustainable, and the West has to come up with new habits of managing food production before it’s too late.
The solution appears to be switching our custom to companies that have a keen eye on the environment. This is difficult in supermarkets and borderline-anonymous takeaway orders through third parties. Supermarkets tend to be so large that they are very shareholder-oriented and need to cut corners in order to compete (food-processing, cheap plastic packaging etc).
The niche (or industry, at this point) that is rapidly growing in size who attempt to serve the planet seems to be meal kit companies. These are companies that delivery specific recipes to your door, with the exact measurements of the ingredients. Meal kits are a tested solution for sustainability, and here is why:
Supermarkets tend to have very long supply chains. Distributors purchase goods from the manufacturers, these are then sold to the supermarket at a retail distribution center, and then these are then transferred to the store. That’s at least four steps for the latest Playstation game or laptop, and the food supply chain isn’t much better.
Instead of going from the farmer to the distribution center to the store, meal kit companies simply go from the distribution center to the store. Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the most pressing threats to the environment and meal kits’ more direct and efficient supply chain reduces these gases greatly. Transportation is a big problem, and refining this so the customer can get their goods with the least transportation as possible is ideal.
Furthermore, meal kit companies have greater control over distribution as a result. This means that they can purchase flagship electric vans with energy-efficient refrigeration – in fact, they are part of the way there.
Meal kit companies also have a lot of control over packaging as a result of a smaller supply chain. Given their keen eye on the environment, most companies do a good job of packaging. In fact, some companies just place products directly in a single cardboard box out for delivery which is far and away better than individually wrapped items (in plastic) in supermarkets. There have still been some complaints around the packaging of some companies though, so still be wary of which companies are making a greater effort.
Perhaps the most obvious, meal kit companies are an incredible solution to food waste. Instead of ordering a kilogram of each vegetable from a normal store, the meal kit company will determine the precise measurements you need given the recipes you’ve ordered. This means you chuck your entire good into the meal, leaving no room for produce to get needlessly old and inedible. You no longer need to ask those questions of “what can I make with one egg, half an onion and 2 carrots?” Your fridge will become much more organized, and every product in there has a purpose, down to the gram.
Treatment of animals and veganism
Whilst the best treatment to animals may be to abstain from eating them, there are still plenty we can do to help their well-being whilst omnivorism is still prevalent. Meal kit companies tend to be more locally sourced and due to the reduction in supply chain, they seem more centered around free-range and better treatments of animals. Also, there are many more vegan and vegetarian options with meal kit companies, meaning even the meat-eaters will be diving into those delicious-looking vegan options.
It’s not just the environment that needs looking after, it’s our health too. With devastating amounts of obesity in the West, whole food has never been more important. Meal kit companies are provenly more nutritious due to the produce not being diluted and abused from food-processing techniques.