Food waste creates several problems. The average American wastes 40 percent of the food that comes into the home. All together, 60 metric tons of food, estimated at $162 billion, is wasted in the U.S. each year, says a new report, according to The New York Times.
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Waste and Resources Action Program (Wrap), a British anti-waste organization, released the report that estimates that a third of the food produced in the world is never eaten. Each year, an about $400 billion is also wasted because of the uneaten food. That food, if collected and distributed effectively, is enough to feed the world’s 870 million hungry people.
The issues with food waste go beyond uneaten food that could be feeding the hungry or the money that symbolically ends up in the landfill with the food that rotted in your crisper. The actual food in the landfill is a problem, too. Food trapped in a landfill emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to about 7 percent of the total greenhouse gasses each year.
Reducing the amount of food 20 to 50 percent would begin to tackle the problems, but an issue is how to begin effectively.
“The difficulty is often in knowing where to start and how to make the biggest economic and environmental savings,” says Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at Wrap.
I don’t know how to go about making that global 20 to 50 percent reduction a reality either, but I make all the efforts I can to curb the personal food waste in my home. I also work to raise awareness. Sometimes it takes hearing about a problem multiple times before people start to pay attention to it. That’s one of the reasons why every time there is new information about food waste, like this report, I bring it to your attention.
As awareness rises, hopefully more food producers and distributors, more grocery stores, more restaurants, more individuals, and more governments – both local and national – will tackle the problem and figure out what steps to take to make the biggest impact.