Apartment hunting in New York City – or any major metropolis – is a notorious rite of passage. Anyone who has scrounged the boroughs for affordable living is often looking at old buildings where, among other things, a garbage disposal is not included. In fact, garbage disposals are a very modern, very American, invention. In the U.S., we actually need to grind up the food we throw away so that it does not clog our pipes!
According to the Department of Agriculture, Americans throw out the equivalent of 1 pound per person per day. 1 pound, per person, every single day! This food is enough to feed about 2 billion people annually.[a]
This is, heartbreakingly, just one piece of the massive problem of “food waste.” Of the 63 million tons of food wasted each year, homes account for a whopping 43%. However, 40% comes from businesses like grocery stores and restaurants. In America, uneaten food is also single largest source of trash in municipal landfills.[b]
Food not wasted becomes money that is saved, or food that is used. And domestic actions taken become standards that have the potential to spread worldwide, as massive countries like India and China industrialize further and develop their food supply chains.Hunger, food scarcity and food waste are multifaceted, often overwhelming, issues, but they provide plentiful tangible opportunities for action.
There are incredible organizations like reFed that have researched solutions for ways in which we can advocate at the corporate and government levels. However, here at FEED, we are always interested in making action accessible to the everyday individual.
So what can we all do, in a small way, to make a big difference?
The key to reducing personal food waste is to buy what you need and use what you buy. Check the fridge before you go shopping, plan your meals and keep the food you need to eat first front-and-center so you don’t forget about it. If you are learning, the USDA has a FoodKeeper app that provides advice on how best to store different types of food and how long they’ll stay fresh.
Also, we can:
Spread the word about the scale of the issue!
Support Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s Food Recovery Act (H.R. 3444)!
Support the introduction of a Food Date Labeling Act!
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, food pantry, or food rescue operation, helping to collect food waste and / or redistribute it to those in need!
Host a FEED Supper! Buy fresh, local, minimal ingredients and gather your friends to celebrate collective meals raised and, most importantly, raise awareness about hunger.
Advocate for a food donation if you work for a restaurant, café or grocery store or even just frequent one! For example, at the FEED Shop & Café, all of our unpurchased pastries are donated.
[a] Forbes online, “Americans Waste About a Pound of Food Per Day, USDA Study Finds” by Christina Troitino (23 April 2018).
[b] Center for Biological Diversity, “Checked Out: How U.S. Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade in Reducing Food Waste” (April 2018).
Post Contributed by Stephanie Harcrow