Food Waste Is Low-Hanging Fruit

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” Remember that one? Apparently many of us don’t. Massive amounts of money, natural resources and pollution are dedicated to the production, transportation, storage, and preparation of food that is ultimately thrown away. In developing nations, most food waste happens between the fields and the kitchen, due to poor infrastructure. But in wealthier countries, most waste occurs after the meal is prepared. Portions too large, picky eaters, and discarded leftovers are just a few of the reasons.

Globally, about a third of the food that is produced goes uneaten. That’s enough to feed two billion people, more than a third of Earth’s population. The numbers in America are stunning:

–$218 billion: the annual spending to grow, transport, process, and dispose of food that is never eaten
–52 million tons: the amount of food sent to landfills
–10 million tons: the amount of food never harvested“
–14 percent: the percentage of Americans who are food insecure, without reliable access to sufficient nutritious, affordable food

Expect to hear a lot more about right-sizing portions, food donation, and composting in coming months. The US Environmental Protection Agency will launch an awareness campaign during Earth Day aimed at reducing the amount of food going to landfills. This will support EPA’s goal of reducing food going to landfills by half, by the year 2030. Similar to the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra you’re already familiar with, EPA has developed a hierarchy of actions to achieve this goal:

  1. Source Reduction
  2. Feed Hungry People
  3. Feed Animals
  4. Industrial Uses (rendering, bioconversion for energy)
  5. Composting
  6. Landfill/Incineration

If we follow this hierarchy, the “low-hanging fruit” of food waste will help us put a new spin on Mom’s age-old advice.

Thanks to Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department Recycling Division for sharing this article.

Photo Credit © iStock.com | Claus Alwin Vogel

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