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The Global Effort to Eliminate Food Waste

recyclingEliminating food waste is a big part of the service that we provide our clients. Not only do we want to add variety and save time to your busy lifestyle, we want to help you eliminate that weekly food waste from overbuying, not eating leftovers, or eating out all the time. There are conditions that we, as individuals, cannot currently change as we wait for the government to change its policies about food. But we can still help and we need to stay accountable for our actions.  According to Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, “More than 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes unconsumed, while one in eight people struggle with hunger. That just doesn’t make sense.” It does NOT make sense, especially when there are easy steps each of us can take to help the situation.

Not only are we using up our planet’s resources but we are also wasting food that could end global hunger. Food production uses 50% of our land, 30% of all energy resources and swallows 80% of all freshwater (USDA, 2016). Reducing our food loss by up to 15% could feed over 25 million people a year! So, how do we do it?

One way to reduce food waste is to support food policy changes. So much food gets thrown out because it’s not pretty enough. The appearance of food accounts for up to 1/3 of total food waste. In addition to looks, establishing uniform “sell-by/use-by” labels on meat and produce products could heavily impact the amount of food we throw away. An Ohio State University study states, “Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe that throwing away food once its expiration date passes lowers their chances of getting sick from it, and fifty-nine percent believe that food waste is “necessary” to consistently produce fresh, flavorful meals.”

This past week, The Consumer Goods Forum, a network of the 400 largest food and consumer companies in the world, developed a plan to simplify date labels. Instead of having many competing terms, there would be only two common phrases; “Best if used by” and “Use by.” This initiative aims to reduce global food waste by 50% by 2030. Click here to read more about the plans to streamline food labels to eliminate food waste.

So, what can we control at a personal level? Consumer behavior is still a big part of the equation. Changing what we eat has a big impact on the entire food chain. If we ate all the crops it takes to feed the animals we eat, food production would increase by approximately two billion tons. It is thought that reducing the amount of meat we consume could have the same as eliminating all retail food losses. Try meatless Monday or go vegetarian one other day of the week. If everyone in the U.S. didn’t eat meat just ONE day each week, the effect would be huge. And not just with land and water but air too! Greenhouse gas emissions would reduce by 1.2 million tons and we would save 70 million gallons of gas and 33 tons of antibiotics that ranchers and farmers use to transport and protect their animals. That’s HUGE! Plus, it’s a good excuse to eat more vegetables, something we could all use a little more of.

The good news is that there is a huge effort across the world to solve the food waste problem. Many countries are implementing new policies such as mandatory composting and recycling in many grocery stores. And there are lots of things you can do at home, besides eating less meat. Check out some of those ideas here. The important things to remember are to buy less, buy ugly, get creative with your food and be an advocate. And if you can’t reduce your food waste, try to donate untouched food to food banks or compost your food scraps rather than throwing them away. Every bit helps to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet.