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Food: Too Good to Waste

Food: Too Good to WasteSometimes statistics need no lead-in:

  • 40% of food produced in the US goes uneaten
  • That’s 20 pounds of food per American per month…wasted

Think about that: close to HALF of food produced in the US goes unused. When it could be used.

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 – Dana Gunders – goes on to blow your mind with these additional stats from her paper:

  • Getting food to you in this country uses 10% of the US energy budget
  • Growing your food occupies 50% of US land
  • Watering your food takes 80% of US freshwater
  • We waste 10 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 postharvesting, processing, packaging as well as distribution, retail and consumer outlets.

Doing more than just stating and reframing the issue, the report provides some very reasonable – and certainly doable – solutions that could be implemented at each level of food production to reduce waste:

  • Address date labeling confusion: sell by and use by dates aren’t regulated and don’t mean food is bad if past date
  • Shop like a pro: use bulk bins, stick to your list, don’t impulse buy
  • Think outside the trash bin: enhance network of second-hand outlets for “off-grade” foods
  • Get innovative: develop new ways to incorporate peels and skins in products that can make use of their nutritional content
  • Revamp restaurants: encourage leftovers to go home with guests, audit waste & involve staff in reducing waste and utilize restaurant donation services
  • Get the government involved: have the government set a target for reducing unnecessary losses

To learn more about the NRDC’s safe, sustainable food efforts, check out their Food page by clicking here.

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