Food is a basic necessity for everyone. From a small child to a grown-up adult, everybody requires nutrition to survive and function properly. Similarly, it is also true that humans never appreciate natural blessings like food.
For a planet whose 11% population cannot afford to eat three times daily, we waste approximately 20 pounds of food per person in a month. And these numbers are only for one country, the USA. If we had to look at the statistics from all the countries, the results would be both shocking and saddening.
You must be thinking that it is okay to throw away food that is unhealthy or has gone bad. But here is the saddest part, the food we’re talking about is completely fine and good to consume. 40% of food produced in the US goes uneaten. So, the food that can essentially eradicate hunger gets thrown away in the trash.
Think about that: close to HALF of the food produced goes unused when it could be used to feed those who need it. While we relentlessly throw our food, some kid somewhere dies because of food deprivation.
This powerful statement comes courtesy of a provocative new issue paper from the Natural Resources Defense Council entitled Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. The author of the paper, Dana Gunders, continues to study different aspects of food waste in the superpower of America. She also stresses the fact that the food industry uses a lot of resources that are wasted with food waste.
In her paper, she provided the following stats:
- The food industry of the United States is highly dependent on energy resources. This is why getting food to you in this country uses 10% of the US energy budget.
- Food requires a good amount of fertile land to grow properly. In the United States, fields occupy 50% of US land.
- Just like land, for proper production of food, we need clean and freshwater for the fields. And, watering your food takes 80% of US freshwater.
- When compared with other countries, people of America waste ten times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia does.
The report identifies areas of breakdown at all levels in the supply chain, from production to post-harvesting, processing, packaging, as well as distribution, retail, and consumer outlets. Doing more than just stating and reframing the issue, this report provides some very reasonable – and certainly doable – solutions that could be implemented at each level of food production to reduce waste. A few of them are given below:
1. Address Date Labeling Confusion
It is a common observation that even after the expiration date, food is completely fine to consume. But still, we sell by dates without understanding that these aren’t regulated and don’t mean the food is bad if it is due its expiry date. To control food waste, we have to raise this issue on a bigger scale.
2. Shop like A Pro
Most of the time, consumers shop more than they need. They buy so much that in the end, most of it gets thrown away.
To avoid this, you should stick to your list and avoid impulse buying. This way, you will only buy what you can consume in a limited time frame: meaning, no food waste from your part.
3. Think Outside the Trash Bin
While some foods might not be useful for us, they can still be used by someone else. Therefore, instead of throwing away food, enhance your network of second-hand outlets for “off-grade” foods. So even if you do not consume it yourself, someone else will use it for you.
4. Get Innovative
To avoid food waste, we have to think outside the box. Develop new ways to incorporate peels and skins in products that can make use of their nutritional content. Otherwise, use it for your skincare or other things instead of tossing it out in the trash can.
5. Revamp Restaurants
A majority of the food waste comes from restaurants and food chains. To combat this problem, they should encourage leftovers takeaway, audit waste and involve staff in reducing waste and utilize restaurant donation services.
Once we establish a system of reducing corporate wastage, this problem will be controlled in no time.
6. Get the Government Involved
Food waste is a national problem. Just like any other important issue, this needs to be addressed on a bigger platform. When the government sets a target for reducing unnecessary losses, we will come out of this problem easily.
Just like air, food is a basic requirement of every human being. But sadly, we waste more food than we consume it. Almost half of the food production in the US goes into the trash can. While this situation is like a chronic illness, the suggestions mentioned above can help us with solutions to strategically eradicate food waste with a top to bottom approach.
Again, this is an issue that requires utter attention. It has to be raised on bigger platforms. There are a lot of organizations like the Natural Resource Defense Council that are working tirelessly to raise this issue and give it the attention which it requires.
Not only are they making efforts to address this problem, but they are also working to find possible solutions to control it. To learn more about the NRDC’s safe, sustainable food efforts, check out their Food page by clicking here.