Reducing Food Waste In The United States

Who’s Responsible For Reducing Food Waste? The United States Government Wants To Rescue More Food From The Trash

food waste on the farm

“Let’s feed people, not landfills” is the idea behind the United States’ first-ever national goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. In a press release published earlier this month, leaders from the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explained why food waste is a global problem that can no longer be ignored. When we throw away food, we are also wasting natural resources, contributing to methane gas emissions and climate change, and taking food from people who need it the most. Who would have ever guessed your leftovers could be so important?

Many applauded America’s progressive step to follow suit of the United Kingdom and France to educate its citizens on the far-reaching impact of food waste. But like with any issue, there’re people on both sides of the aisle.

On one side, supporters like Dana Gunders, a project scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Food and Agriculture program, shared with ThinkProgress the US’ announcement is a “historic day for anyone who eats and wants to do so into the future”. It’s been estimated that the average American family throws away about 40 percent of all of the groceries they purchase. This is nearly a triple digit increase in food waste from 12.2 million tons in the 1960s to 35 million tons in 2012.

The statistics are shocking; yet, if we choose to view food waste only from this perspective, the burden is shifted on families to solve the problem. A consumer-focused plan, like the Food Waste Challenge, isn’t enough to tackle a multi-source issue. Continue reading to find out why a food activist believes the government should target grocery stores and farms to reduce wastefulness.

Food Retailers Could Be a Key Factor in Helping America Reach Its Goal

Food waste activist and co-founder of the Ugly Fruit and Veg campaign Jordan Figueiredo shared with ThinkProgess his thoughts of grocery stores and farmers being held more accountable for their contribution to excessive food waste. Oftentimes, food retailers discard fresh produce if it fails to meet industry cosmetic standards. Jordan believes it could be a win-win situation if grocery store chains would sell its “ugly” produce at a reduced rate. Both shoppers and farmers can financially benefit, and more natural resources can be conserved. You can sign a petition here to support the movement!

Regardless of whom you believe is majorly liable for our countries growing heaps of rotting food in landfills, I think at the very least food waste prevention and reduction is a part of the national conversation, a topic no one even talked about 15 years ago.

Who do you think is responsible for ending food waste? Tell me in the comment section what you (and your family) are doing to lessen food waste in your home.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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  • Rod Averbuch

    Food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. Fortunately, there are new ways to reduce fresh food waste.

    The new open GS1 DataBar barcode standard enables new fresh food waste reduction applications that allow automatic progressive purchasing incentives for fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates. These applications also eliminate labor-intensive manual relocation and promotional labeling of the promoted perishable lots.

    An example of such an application is the “End Grocery Waste” App. This GS1 DataBar based application encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that makes fresh food affordable for all families, maximizes grocery retailer revenue, and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

  • Steffan Lewis

    We’re all responsible for reducing food waste!

    My wife, Barbara, and I, are particularly interested in the topics discussed here by Talancia Pea. Our personal quest to reduce food waste has resulted in us developing the EatBy App – http://eatbyapp.com – which is a free app designed to help householders reduce food waste by better kitchen management. (Our app plug is over.)

    We have a growing population with disgraceful disparities between us, and with extensive hunger and poverty on a planet that is already straining from some of our unnecessary excesses we must plan for the future and start making the appropriate changes now.

    But the problem of food waste is particularly complicated and needs to be considered in its entirety – not just one particular aspect of it – something Talancia has covered well in her article.

    Aspect to consider include; shopping habits, food storage and preservation, logistics and distribution, marketing and advertising, wholesale and retail practices (including pricing policies), farming and fishing, food processing and packaging, energy reclamation methods, data processing and analysis, and, of course, possible vested political interests – the list could go on! Consumer habits, farming methods, industrial processes and retail practices can be changed with media coverage and legislation.

    Granted, our app is aimed specifically towards reducing domestic waste but we hope it also increases awareness. We are acutely concerned that, until supply more closely reflects a more suitable and sustainable demand, unnecessary food waste is inevitable. Demand will change as consumer habits alter. And old habits will only change with heightened awareness of the problems and, of course, with suitable solutions including adequate lifestyle alterations.

    Change can’t depend just on activists, lobbyists or political/charitable organisations, retailers and governments (or an ethically entrepreneurial married couple). Regardless of individual ideals or political persuasion – anyone who considers themselves part of a caring society must contribute if we are all to survive. It has to be down to each of us to make some small changes. Changes in our attitudes and behaviour as consumers will ultimately drive change for the better further up the food supply chain.

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