Food wasted in the U.S. alone could provide every hungry person in the world with 1.25kg of nutrition every day.
Food waste in the developed world has reached endemic proportions. If you have any lingering doubts about this, consider these figures: in the United States alone as much as 40% of food is wasted, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
That waste amounted to a staggering 60 billion kilograms worth an estimated $161 billion in 2010.
“Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need,” says the U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes.”
The main producers of food waste are retailers that dump perfectly edible produce for aesthetic reasons. Of potatoes alone, at least a quarter are dumped in the rubbish for being the wrong size or the wrong shape or the wrong color. The situation is similar with apples, oranges, bananas, tomatoes and other popular fruits and vegetables.
Encouragingly, eeveral retailers, including such giant corporations as Walmart and PepsiCo, have joined a program by the federal government aimed at halving their food waste by 2030 through a variety of measures in an effort to decrease their carbon footprints and other environmental impacts. Called Winning on Reducing Food Waste, the initiative seeks to roll back wasteful consumer habits and retail practices.
About time too. Food waste is estimated to account for 8% of air pollution and a significant part of CO2 emissions in the States. “Effectively reducing food waste will “require cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, communities, and the entire supply chain,” the FDA explains.
“As the world’s population continues to grow and the food systems continue to evolve, now is the time for action to educate consumers and businesses alike on the need for food waste reduction,” adds U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The future of food depends on action from us now…”
Even as massive amounts of food are wasted in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world, some 800 million people worldwide still subsist essentially on starvation diets. Food wasted in the U.S. alone could provide every hungry person in the world with 1.25kg of nutrition every day.