The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that 30 to 40% of edible food in the United States currently goes to waste. These 133 billion pounds of wasted food are worth an estimated $161 billion, which is a significant loss to our economy. At the household level, the average US family of four loses an estimated $1,500 per year on wasted food. Further, food waste accounts for 21% of the American waste stream.
What triggers your decision to toss a food in the refrigerator? Or how do you decide to keep a certain food? Little research has been done to learn about the contents and management of home refrigerators. This appliance is key in managing food waste.
Research was conducted by The Ohio State University and Louisiana State University. Consumers were asked about how they decide to discard or keep food. A majority used odor, looks safe to eat, or passed date on package as deciding factors. Those who cleaned their refrigerator regularly often wasted more food, and in many cases could keep some of those foods.
There continues to be a lot of confusion about what date labels mean in reference to ‘use by’, ‘best by’ and others. There is a proposal in U.S. Congress to simplify labels to “best if used by” which translates to “follow your nose” and “use by” which would mean “toss it.”
Everyone can play a part in reducing food waste. Even our youth! So, the USDA has launched a youth (ages 11-18)competition for ideas to reduce food waste.
Participants submit a written proposal or video. Criteria to be judged include originality and creativity; clarity of expression; and adherence/appropriateness to theme. Topic ideas include prevention, recovering food waste, recycling, and raising awareness.
The U.S. has an abundant supply of food to feed all people, but much of it is wasted. Now is the time to change!
Food waste is a top priority for the top U.S. government organizations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This collaboration has announced six key priorities which include:
Enhance interagency coordination
Increase consumer education and outreach efforts
Improve coordination and guidance on food loss and waste measurement
Clarify and communicate information on food safety, food date labels, and food donations
Collaborate with private industry to reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain
Encourage food waste reduction by Federal Agencies in their respective facilities
What will you do in your communities to get the conversation, education, and champion in reducing food waste? Tossed food reduces economic growth, reduced community health, and damages the environment.
Did you know that of the total waste that ends up in landfills, 21 percent is food waste? Because of this, food is the primary contributor to total U.S. methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, that comes from landfills.
So what do you do to reduce food waste? What does your community do to reduce food waste?
The challenge to reduce food waste starts with every consumer. Start by buying only the groceries you need. Making a weekly menu plan and creating a shopping list can help.
Store foods properly. Do you have a thermometer in your refrigerator or freezer? This can help you monitor your appliance and can help determine food safety if the power goes out. Keep foods covered to prevent cross-contamination and reduced food quality.
The Kansas State University Pollution Prevention Institute has formed a partnership with the Kansas Alliance for Wellness to present three upcoming workshops on minimizing food waste and keeping unused food out of local landfills.
The workshops will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:
June 14 – Salina Public Library.
June 21 – Iola courthouse.
June 28 – Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cultural Center.
There is no cost to attend and lunch will be provided. Please register in advance at www.sbeap.org.
The workshops follow a train-the-trainer approach, allowing participants to learn more about what they can do to address food issues in their community. Organizers say the training will follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s hierarchy of food recovery, which includes donating food to food-insecure populations as one of its top solutions.
The workshop also will include training on strategic communications, including advocacy, marketing and messaging, which can be used to conduct public campaigns aimed at food system policies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service provided funding for these workshops.
For more information or questions, contact Barb Goode at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-452-9456.
Think twice before tossing that unfinished meal or imperfect food. Each day, U.S. consumers toss about one pound of food. That is equivalent to one-third of the daily calories each person eats.
Some of the healthiest foods that are wasted are fruits and vegetables and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes followed by dairy and meat and mixed-meat dishes.
Food waste happens in many other points of the food chain besides at home. When foods are wasted, losses are also felt in the environment, farmers time, land and other resources used to grow and raise food.