Waste Not, Want Not: 5 Tips for Reducing Food Waste
What do you do with your food waste? We live in the woods, where a compost pile becomes a picnic for black bears. Fortunately, a friend keeps chickens, so we save our scraps in a bag in the freezer, and once a week, we trade chicken food for a dozen beautiful eggs. But what if you don’t know an egg lady?
Chris Hunt, writing for EcocentricBlog.org, explains just how to combat the food waste dilemma that persists in our culture.
If you’re reading this, chances are you care about the earth and try to make decisions that minimize your environmental footprint. You probably turn off the lights when you leave the house; you probably recycle; perhaps you’ve installed a low-flow showerhead, use public transportation, ride a bicycle for local errands, carry a reusable water bottle and frequent the farmers’ market to buy local, organic foods… but have you thought about how much of your food you end up tossing in the trash?
In the US, we waste roughly 40 percent of all the food we produce. This is totally insane – and it’s an environmental nightmare. Food production is resource intensive, requiring water, energy, land, soil, human labor and an elaborate web of production, processing and distribution infrastructure. When we throw away food, all these resources are squandered. And we pay for it! Every year, we trash about $165 billion worth of food, then shell out an additional $750 million to dispose of it, mostly in landfills, where it decomposes anaerobically, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates climate change. (You might be surprised to note that food waste is responsible for approximately 23 percent of total US methane emissions.) The extraordinary waste of food is even more lamentable given the shameful reality that 50 million Americans struggle with hunger every day.
Fortunately, the food waste dilemma is solvable. And while the problem must be addressed at all sectors of the food system, from farms to retailers to restaurants to municipalities, as food consumers, there are plenty of ways we can help reduce waste – especially since there’s so much room for improvement; US consumers now throw away roughly 25 percent of the food they buy, which costs the average household of four an estimated $1,350 to $2,275 per year! If you’re anything like me, you’d probably rather put a couple thousand dollars in your wallet than in the garbage. And if you’re interested in embracing a more sustainable lifestyle, eliminating food waste is a tremendously important (and remarkably easy) way to start.
This article originally appeared at EcocentricBlog.org. It is partially posted here with permission from the author.
Chris Hunt serves as senior policy advisor for GRACE’s Sustainable Table. He devotes his attention to issues related to food production and consumption, focusing on the problems created by industrial livestock operations. (from Ecocentric Blog)
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