Food: Waste not, want not
Did you know people in the U.S. and other developed nations waste millions of tons of food each year? Here are some statistics I found in a recent magazine article that might boggle your mind:
- 40 percent: The estimated amount of food that gets thrown away in the U.S.
- 50 percent: The United States’ per capita food increase since 1974.
- 925 million: The amount in tons of food that industrialized nations together toss — enough to feed 925 million people.
- 14 percent: The amount of food waste in the municipal solid waste stream.
- 20 percent: The amount of methane emissions caused by food that rots in landfills.
- One third: The rough amount of food produced worldwide that is never eaten.
My source is Heifer International’s information and outreach publication called World Ark. I devour each issue of this interesting magazine. Heifer International is the organization whose goal is to end poverty and hunger “by helping families in more than 125 countries move toward greater self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training in environmentally sound agriculture.”
If you’re like me when I read the above statistics, you might wonder how so much food gets wasted. Then I think about my own household and how I throw out uneaten leftovers and fruits and vegetables that have gone bad before I’ve had the chance to prepare them. Just between you and me, I don’t even have a composter yet. I know, right? It’s been on my “To-Do” list for, oh, six years or so. So if that’s just one household and you start adding up others — the result is a ton of uneaten food.
Doing some quick research on the topic, it appears that a large portion of food waste is attributed to restaurants and supermarkets, hence the “freegans” who “dumpster dive” to rescue some of that food — did you see that special on Oprah a few years back? But agriculture can also produce lots of waste and many “food rescue” groups have started “gleaning” the fields to gather crops that would otherwise be left behind after harvest by machines.
To learn more, you can check out a book that looks interesting called American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom. He also has a website, wastedfood.com, that has loads of interesting information including tips on how to curb your own food waste. I took some notes!
Tuesday Trippier lives in Delaware, is a writer and a mother of four who enjoys writing about green living.