From Dr. Mercola:
Every year, food worth the equivalent of $165 billion is wasted, much of which ends up in landfills and rots adding to methane emissions. If food losses were reduced by even 15 percent, it could feed another 25 million Americans,3 slashing hunger rates by half.
On a global scale, as you might suspect, the numbers are even more striking and the implications stretch far beyond hunger. An estimated 1.3 billion foods worth close to $1 trillion retail is wasted. As National Geographic put it:4
“Aside from the social, economic, and moral implications of that waste—in a world where an estimated 805 million people go to bed hungry each night—the environmental cost of producing all that food, for nothing, is staggering.
The water wastage alone would be the equivalent of the entire annual flow of the Volga—Europe’s largest river—according to a UN report.
The energy that goes into the production, harvesting, transporting, and packaging of that wasted food, meanwhile, generates more than 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.
If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China.”
Food Waste Occurs at Every Levels of the Food Supply Chain
There is potential for food loss and waste at virtually every step of the food system. From vegetables left in farm fields to rot because they are discolored to produce lost due to spills or spoilage during processing and distribution, the amount of food lost or wasted could easily feed the world’s hungry.
About two-thirds of waste occurs at the production and distribution level while the remaining one-third occurs at the consumer level.5 The Wasted report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) detailed losses that occur at each stage of the food chain:6
Losses in farming: This includes food that is never harvested and food that is lost between harvest and sale. Losses post-harvest and in packing: After produce is harvested, it is culled, which is when products are removed because they won’t meet certain quality or appearance criteria (such as size, color, weight, blemishes, etc.). One cucumber farmer noted that while 75 percent of his harvest is edible, fewer than half leave the farm after culling. Losses in processing: Food losses at this stage are generally the result of trimming or inefficiencies in processing. Losses in distribution: Food losses may occur due to improper storage temperatures during shipping and handling, or due to rejected shipments of perishable items. Losses in retail: Retail stores view waste as a cost of doing business. One consultant estimated that one in seven truckloads of perishable foods delivered to supermarkets is thrown away. Losses in food service: Restaurants, cafeterias, fast food outlets, and caterers contribute to food loss due to