From Dr. Mercola:
Americans discard 34 million tons of food every year — that’s like tossing a quarter of your groceries into the trash. Nearly half of all food grown in 2013 was thrown away, while 49 million Americans experienced “food insecurity” and hunger.1
The food waste problem is not limited to America’s home kitchens but also occurs in restaurants, grocery stores, and on farms.
A 2013 report entitled “Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not”2 by the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) found that more than 2 billion tons of food are wasted annually.
It reports that up to 30 percent of perfectly good vegetables are not harvested simply because they aren’t pretty. Thirty to 50 percent of the 4 billion tons of food produced around the world each year never reaches a human mouth.
Food Forward TV episode “Make Food, Not Waste” explores this massive problem of food waste and features a few innovative individuals and organizations who are transforming organic scraps into an ecological goldmine.
Food Waste Reaches Epic Proportions
Most communities spend more to deal with trash than on schoolbooks, fire protection, libraries, and parks.
When you add up wasted food from all sources (households, restaurants, markets, farms, and food that never makes it to market due to spoilage or contamination from mold or pests), the figure for year 2010 is 133 billion pounds of food — which amounts to 31 percent of the total food supply.4
To put this into perspective, this amount of food would fill the Empire State Building 91 times!
But there are also related costs that may be less obvious. Water and fuel are required to dispose of food waste, as well food scraps taking up precious landfill space. Organic waste is the second highest component of American landfills.
Landfill waste is the largest source of methane emission, which is 23 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.5
Cheap Food Seems to Encourage Wastefulness
According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), in developing nations, food waste/losses occur mainly at early stages in the food chain and can be traced back to “financial, managerial, and technical constraints in harvesting techniques, as well as storage and cooling facilities.”
Therefore, changes are needed in the infrastructure of the entire global food system, beginning with how food is farmed, packaged, and distributed.
UNEP stresses the importance of raising awareness of the food waste problem among industries, retailers, and consumers, as well as finding new and innovative uses for food that’s currently being discarded.
Americans have a “cheaper” food supply than most other countries, and cheap food does not motivate consumers to place much value on what they’ve purchased. For example, the average American wastes 10 times more food than the average consumer in Southeast Asia.
One Example of Massive Waste: The