When thinking about the environment, sustainability and food, the first words that come to mind are organic, non-GMO and small farms. Few of us think of waste. Yet, food waste is a global problem. In the United States, much of the food waste occurs before an item ever reaches the market.
The statistics are eye-opening with an estimated ⅓ (!) of the world’s food wasted on its journey from farm to table. In real numbers, that’s 2.8 trillion pounds, enough to feed 3 billion people. Shocking, isn’t it?
Billions of people in the United States struggle to put food on the table regularly. Children go to school hungry while perfectly good food is tossed for a variety of reasons. There’s also an environmental impact of food waste. Anyone that’s seen fruits and vegetables become science experiments in the refrigerator understands the effects of decay. Those same fruits and vegetables in a garbage dump produce methane gas, creating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Bringing the food waste problem closer to home, waste eats (pun intended) almost $1,500 of the annual budget for a family of four. That’s over $100 per month thrown in the trash can.
Fortunately, many countries recognize there’s a problem and are implementing laws and reform to control food waste. In the United States, the Food Recovery Network, Hungry Harvest and MealConnect are taking steps to ensure unsold and “ugly” food fills bellies instead of dumps. Even the USDA has an app that helps consumers track food’s “good until” date, reducing waste in home kitchens.
Here are additional steps to minimize waste and save money:
- Don’t take “Use By” and “Sell By” dates literally
- Plan meals and make a list--buy only what's needed to create those meals
- Use any food waste as compost
The reduction and eventual elimination of food waste will take time. Education and awareness influence restaurants, cities, states and countries to take actions that benefit both the hungry and the environment.
Guest post by Tiffany McAdams
About the Author
Tiffany McAdams is a freelance writer and graphic designer for InvestmentZen – a website that shares inspirational stories & actionable insights from people who have found a way to make money work for them. She loves the outdoors, especially skiing and kayaking, and has a knack for interior decoration.