Mar 13 2016

Stop Food Waste – Feed The Hungry

Published by at 12:13 pm under General

What a waste!

While 47 million people in our country are “food insecure”, others are throwing out groceries to the tune of $1484 per year. What can be done?1*

 Last week we talked about the huge problem of food waste in our country. It is estimated that while an average American family of four throws away approximately $1484 worth of edible food each year, 47 million people are considered “food insecure.” Along with wasted food, comes wasted resources in terms of fuel, chemicals, water, land and labor…all needed to grow and produce our food supply. Additionally, wasted food that gets dumped into disposal sites, buried underground in an anaerobic environment, produces methane gas, a gas more potent then carbon monoxide. “…If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest generator of greenhouse gas in the world behind China and the US….”1*

Part of the problem is economics. The more we throw away, the more we need to buy, and the more retailers sell. Confusion over “use by” dates cause us to often times throw away items that are still good. Grocery stores don’t want to slash prices, when there is full price produce ready to sell. Commercial growers overplant crops so as not to come up short on supermarket contracts. The labor costs associated with a harvest often outweigh the profits, so crops get plowed over for a new crop to be planted.(1,2)*

If there is a silver lining in this scenario, it is that people are seeing there is so much room and opportunity for improvement. Some of the ways that people around the globe are working to reduce food waste are:

In our country, a growing number of restaurants are measuring food wasted and reacting in accordance. Many restaurants are offering smaller or half portions. Colleges and schools have stopped using trays in their cafeterias which has resulted in students taking and wasting 25-30% less food. Farms are allowing aid groups to come in and take discarded produce that is not fit for sale in grocery stores and taking it to food banks and soup kitchens.1*

Another example is big box supermarkets taking a new approach to not wasting eggs. For years, if one egg was cracked, the whole carton would get tossed. Wal-Mart launched a pilot program which enables workers to substitute a new egg for the broken eggs. If this were applied to all stores nationwide, Wal-Mart estimates it could save approximately 5 billion eggs a year. Yes, 5 billion! 1*

The Natural Resource Defense Council is urging the US government to standardize the “sell by” “best by” and “use by” labels which confuse consumers and leads to waste. “…U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices..” (1,2)*

In developing nations, Aid Groups are providing smaller farms with storage bins, metal silos, grain sacks, tools for drying and preserving vegetables and fruits, as well as low tech equipment for cooling and packing produce. In Afghanistan, tomato losses were reduced from 5-50 percent in one example and grains and legumes grains went from 15-20 percent to under 2 percent in another.1*

In the UK, the government has made food waste a national priority. Feedback is an environmental organization that works tirelessly to end food waste at every level of the food system. During their campaign, Feeding the 5000, they collect produce from farms and packers that have been rejected by grocers for one reason or another. They cook this discarded food into lunches to feed 5000 people, all in order to raise awareness. According to their website, “…Feeding the 5000 is Feedback’s flagship campaign event to shine a light on the global food waste scandal, champion the delicious solutions and catalyze the global movement against food waste. At each event, we serve up a delicious communal feast for 5000 people made entirely out of food that would otherwise have been wasted, bringing together a coalition of organizations that offer the solutions to food waste, raising the issue up for political agenda and inspiring new local initiatives against food waste…” (1,3)*

Additionally, Tristram Stuart, author of Waste, Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, is encouraging the EU to lift the ban on feeding food waste to swine. He argues, “collecting and sterilizing community food waste would lower food costs for farmers, protect vast swaths of tropical forest from being cleared to grow soy for swine meal and save businesses the cost of food waste disposal. Feeding livestock on the food we currently waste, according to the UN Environmental Programme would globally liberate enough cereals to feed 3 billion people…” 1*

What can you do to reduce waste in your world? If we all do our parts to eliminate food waste, we can make a difference not only in our town, state and country, but around the world. Preserving precious resources is good for our environment and our food supply, leading to healthier living all the way around. Make it your goal to reduce your food waste by just 15%. It can make a difference!

Healthiest wishes,






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