Nearly one-third of America’s food supply goes to waste. Although the government has recently instituted a number of measures to improve that state of affairs, it may take deeper changes to eliminate food insecurity.
A comprehensive look at how the food we throw out daily could instead change the world for the better, featuring Anthony Bourdain, chef Massimo Bottura and Global Citizen's version of an Ed Sheeran song.
Massive food waste by humanity is an undisputed fact documented daily in tons of discarded scrapings from dinner plates around the world. It is now being measured as a serious threat to the global environment and economy, with an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world left uneaten at a cost of up to $400 billion a year in waste disposal and other government costs.
If someone asks you to picture where greenhouse gases come from, images of smoggy traffic jams or billowing smokestacks are likely to spring to mind. But your dinner? Probably not so much.
Your dinner isn’t simply a delicious, innocent bystander. From the farm to your plate, there’s food waste at every step. And decomposing food isn’t just stinky; it releases potent greenhouse gases, mostly in the form of methane.
The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry.
We waste 1.3 billion tons of food around the world per year. HuffPost has launched the #Reclaim campaign to highlight the problem of global food waste, and more importantly, work towards reducing it.
Food waste is getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. No matter how you slice it, the statistics are downright alarming. The world produces 17% more food than it did 30 years ago, yet almost half of it never reaches our bellies.
Though no good data exists yet about how much hotels or their buffets specifically contribute to the overall waste total, the thinking is that hotels are an ideal place to raise awareness and change behaviors around sustainability issues, as they have for water conservation.
Before we dive into the dumpster, it’s important to know that the information we have is not perfect. All our knowledge about food waste comes from studies which use various different methods to estimate how much food is being lost or thrown away. Not only do these different studies use different methods to measure food waste, but many studies also have different definitions of what counts as “food waste”.
New Yorkers already have blue and green bins for recycling glass, metal, paper and plastic. But now brown bins for organic waste are starting to appear all over the city. These plastic totems are part of the city’s multimillion-dollar campaign to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on landfills, and to turn food scraps and yard waste into compost and, soon, clean energy.
According to a new report by the National Resources Defense Council, the United States throws away a staggering 40% of the food it produces every year. There are a number of culprits for this: restaurants and bakeries which throw away what’s left uneaten or isn’t sold, people who buy more groceries than they can use (you know who you are), food distributors who throw out whole pallets when things go bad in transit. But one of the major reasons we produce so much food waste is supermarkets.
But is food waste that big of a deal? Start with the basic meaning of the term. The U.N. definition covers any “discarding or alternative (nonfood) use of food that is safe and nutritious for human consumption along the entire food supply chain.” Under that expansive meaning, giving your dog table scraps or putting them in your garden as fertilizer counts as “wasting” food, even though you’re putting it to productive use.
I don't know if there's a newer or more compelling way to say it: We waste 40 percent of our crops because they're not the right shape or size or color. Nearly half of everything. And that's before it hits our supermarkets and then our homes, where we throw away a further seven million tons of food every year.
So, when I tell you that London-based food entrepreneur Hannah McCollum turns waste vegetables into hummus and that's she's crowdfunding a campaign to scale her production up to utilize even more unwanted veggies, you might wonder exactly how much dip she'd have to make before putting even the slightest dint in such an excess of waste.
On June 4, 2013 the USDA and EPA launched the US Food Waste Challenge calling on the entire food supply chain to join efforts to reduce and better manage food waste with the goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. The Challenge lists three major initiatives to accomplish...
For the environmentally conscious eater, they are among the most inconvenient truths: Too much food goes to waste. Too much packaging comes with the food. And too much of the packaging is made to last for ages.
Now there may be a single answer to all three problems: using excess food to make the packaging.
An activist has made it so in France. Could he take his campaign global?
That sort of behavior is encouraged at bulk stores like Costco and Walmart, which operate on the myth that buying in bulk helps you save money. But new evidence shows that the push for huge quantities of cheap, high-quality food has caused us to be more wasteful than ever. Simply put: We’re throwing away more in food waste than we are saving by buying in bulk.
Imagine receiving just 60 percent of your pay. Or when you send email, 40 percent are never delivered. We don’t tolerate 40 percent inefficiency in anything, yet we’ve come to accept it with the major resource that sustains the human race: our food.
One-third or more of food never makes it from the farm to our fork. The food is lost to waste or spoilage. At the same time nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night.
Government agencies, including the USDA, the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, are tuned in to the issue. That is because significant amounts of energy, water and chemicals used to grow the food also are wasted. As it rots in landfills, food waste also produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. And if it weren’t discarded, the food could help feed the hungry.
There is also a silver lining to this surplus situation: if we could slash food waste, we could feed the world's projected population of at least nine billion people in 2050 without heroic increases in agricultural productivity.
The world wastes an astonishing amount of food. As a recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ blog post outlines in stark detail, about one third of all the food that is produced is wasted, which amounts to about $1 trillion worth of food loss each year. A shocking 7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food that is thrown away, and the water that goes into producing food that is eventually wasted could fill Switzerland’s Lake Geneva two times over.
The combined result is that over the past four decades, the amount of food being produced in order to feed the U.S. population (including what goes to waste) has nearly doubled.
A survey of 218 UK food charities has found that refrigeration issues and lack of storage space are stopping surplus supermarket and restaurant food from being redistributed.
Clearly, there are major disagreements about even the most basic terms, and the differences are large enough to complicate the view of even a simple food waste quandary. Say I, for example, forget to eat some heads of romaine lettuce I have sitting in the fridge. If, in an effort to make up for my profligacy, I drop them off at the local farmers’ market to be composted, FAO and ERS would call this “wasted” food since it didn’t end up in a human stomach. But EPA wouldn’t, since my veggies didn’t end up in the landfill.
Elsewhere in the world, the tinkering between policy and public education is underway. France has banned supermarkets from throwing away food by directing them to compost or donate all expiring or unsold food. Germany is focusing on the issue in part by reforming expiration dates, which many argue are arbitrary and problematic.
"Through our daily choices, we can change the food system from what it is at the moment, which is the single most destructive process that humans have done to the planet.”
Ride-sharing apps have revolutionized American transportation options, and made us wonder: What else can we share using our smartphones? Startups like Food Rescue US are demonstrating that smartphones can indeed help us share quite a lot.
Slate readers offer their own suggestions for how to run an efficient kitchen.
By 2050, the average Earthling will be consuming 3,070 calories a day, yet the average person requires only 2,000 calories. Keeping this steady path to overconsumption in mind, while nearly a billion people around the world go hungry, we waste one third of the food produced globally.
To empower sustainability at the root level with the marketplace for surplus & imperfect produce.
HuffPost campaign...Reducing the world of waste
At Daily Table we believe that delicious, wholesome and affordable food should be available to all. Our mission is to help communities make great food choices by making it easy to choose tasty, healthy, convenient and truly affordable meals and groceries.
Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same.
Food Recovery Network unites students on college campuses to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from their campuses and communities and donating it to people in need.
is committed to ending American food insecurity by directly transferring fresh, usable food that would have otherwise been thrown away from restaurants, grocers and other food industry sources to food insecure families throughout the U.S.
The Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) is a collaborative effort of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association. The FWRA’s mission is to reduce the volume of food waste sent to landfill by addressing the root causes of waste, and securing pathways to donate or recycle unavoidable food waste.
FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) is a project about working towards a more resource efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste.
As a nation of food lovers and waste haters, it’s surprising how much of our food ends up in the bin. But with just a few small changes every day, we can cut food waste at home in half by 2025. We're here to help – providing the tips, tools and inspiration you need to make the food you love go further.
ReFED was formed to build a different future, where food waste prevention is recognized as an untapped strategy that can save resources, create jobs, alleviate hunger, conserve water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — all while stimulating a new multi-billion dollar market opportunity.
One third of all food is either wasted or lost – an amount that would be enough to meet global food needs. Together with our members from industry, politics and civil society, SAVE FOOD aims to drive innovations, promote interdisciplinary dialogue and spark off debates in order to generate solutions, across the entire value chain “from field to fork”. By involving all actors. And on a broad front.
Our mission is to make the problem of food waste understandable by raising awareness in different ways: videos, articles, campaigns, blogs and discussions. We want people to see that it is an integral part of their daily habits, which has a negative impact on our world.
Since 1983, the Society of St. Andrew has salvaged fresh, nutritious produce from American farms – produce that otherwise would be left to rot – and delivered it to agencies across the nation that serve the poor.
Spoiler Alert is changing the way that wasted food is handled, forever.
Denmark’s largest movement against food waste.
The New Food Economy is an award-winning nonprofit newsroom using independent, deep, and unbiased reporting to investigate the forces shaping how and what we eat. We are the home of a new kind of food journalism that goes beyond the gustatory to tell the urgent, underreported stories of a changing system no one can opt out of.
Reduce your footprint. We all need to THINK about and be mindful of our food consumption patterns, we all need to EAT, and we all need to SAVE food, especially in developed countries and among the middle classes of the developing ones. If we can ‘Reduce our Foodprint’, we can reduce humanity’s impact on our planet.
Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.
WRAP is a catalyst for positive economic and environmental action. We work uniquely, and by design, in the space between governments, businesses, communities, thinkers and individuals – forging powerful partnerships and delivering ground-breaking initiatives to support more sustainable economies and society.