10 Things You Should Know about Food Waste and 10 Ways You Can Help
Feeding America released its 2017 Map the Meal Gap figures yesterday, revealing that 1 in 6 people in Northwest North Carolina continues to struggle to afford sufficient food to live a healthy active life, while 1 in 4 children lives in a household that struggles to provide the nutrition they need to thrive and grow.
However, 40% of food produced in this country (nearly half!) goes to waste. Food is wasted at every point along the food chain, from farms and fishing boats, to processing and distribution, in retail stores and restaurants, and at home.
Edible, quality food should never be destined for the trash can.
10 Things You Should Know About Food Waste
1. $166 billion is spent on food we never eat
2. 40% of all food in the United States is wasted
3. 25% of all freshwater we consume goes to produce food we never eat
4. 4% of all oil we consume goes to produce food we never eat
5. Six billion pounds of fresh produce are left to rot in fields every year
6. The American family of four throws away $1,600 of produce a year
7. The average American household throws away about 25% of the food they purchase
8. In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
9. Averaged, Americans waste 20 pounds of food per person per month
10. Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa
10 Ways You Can Help
1. Shop carefully. Plan your meals in advance and stick to your shopping list, saving you money, time and benefiting the environment.
2. Store smart. Use this handy food storage guide.
3. Save and eat leftovers. Date and mark your leftovers so you eat them in order.
4. Freeze it. Freezing veggies and fruits before they turn is a great way to preserve them for smoothies, stews, and more.
5. Compost. If you have waited too long and your produce is no longer consumable, turn it into next year’s soil.
6. Don’t worry about ugly. Purchase perfectly good but oddly shaped produce.
7. Support programs such as the NC Association of Feeding America Food Bank’s Farm to Food Bank initiative that connects farmers with food banks to reduce waste.
8. Learn your labels. Sell by, use by, expires—it can be confusing. Volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank for a day and learn the ins and outs of the labels and learn how long you can keep that food on your shelf.
9. Donate what you don’t want. Got something sitting around that you don’t think your family will consume? Donate it to a Second Harvest Food Bank food drive. Here are the best foods to donate.
10. Support Second Harvest. Second Harvest works with grocery partners and others throughout Northwest North Carolina to rescue food before it goes to the landfill. It all takes time and, yes, money, to do this… but the impact is tremendous. In 2016, we distributed 30.6 million pounds of food… making its final destination stomachs, not trashcans.
Food Waste Facts at stopwaste.org
Gunders, D. (2012). Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40% of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill. National Resources Defense Council.
United States Department of Agriculuture, Office of the Chief Economist. (2013, June). U.S. Food Waste Challenge, FAQs.