Happy Earth Day! Don’t forget about the fun activities I put together earlier this month to celebrate Earth Day. Today I want to talk about food waste.
I constantly blog about food waste for Food Waste Friday and never blog about why you should care about food waste. I’ll share my personal journey with food waste soon, but today I want to focus on your journey with food waste and why everyone should be conscientious about wasted food. What better day to do this than Earth Day? Let’s discuss why we should care about food waste.
First off, I think is important to consider how you can benefit from less food waste. The main way you can benefit is that you’ll spend less at the grocery store. If you take inventory of your food before shopping, make a list of what you need and stick to that list then you’ll be much more likely to save money during each grocery trip. Even if you don’t care about Earth Day, you should at least be motivated to save money at the grocery store!
Secondly, there is the whole environmental factor. Wasted food goes into a plastic bag that is then taken to a landfill and later turns into greenhouse gas. Not only are you adding to the growing wasted space of landfills, you’re contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
We also waste a ton of water when we waste food. Just think for a minute about all the water it takes to grow a plant. Remember that all food comes from plants on some level. Even the meat you eat had to eat plants in order to grow. Every time we throw out food, we are wasting water. That may not seem like a huge issue if you live in a place that doesn’t have water restrictions. Think again about all the people in AMERICA who have to follow water restrictions because of water shortages. I’m talking about America here, not third world countries. Water shortages are becoming a first world problem.
I could go on and on. I could probably bore you for days. I won’t do that. Instead I’ll let you read this quote from a very well put together NRDC paper and I’ll give you some resources if you want to learn more. The bottom line that I want to get across is that food waste isn’t just a problem for frugal hippies. This is a problem that can and will affect everyone if we don’t start doing something about it. What will you do about it?
Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget,1 uses 50 percent of U.S. land,2 and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States.3 Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.4 That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month.5 Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year,6 but also 25 percent of all freshwater7 and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where organic matter accounts for 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions.8 Nutrition is also lost in the mix—food saved by reducing losses9 by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year10 at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.11 Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates.
Here are some resources you may want to check out:
Peer reviewed food waste reports– This has all the numbers and science for my nerd friends.
Websites and blogs– this is a good list of website to check out if this interests you.
American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)– a book by blogger, Jonathon Bloom of Wasted Food. This is on my list of must reads.
How do you feel about food waste? I’d love to know your thoughts on the issue.