Thursday, February 05, 2015

#VeggieDag Thursday. Worldwide food waste (and what you can do about it).

Every year, 30 percent of all food produced worldwide is lost to waste: that's 1.3 billion tons lost.1 In the U.S. alone, Americans throw away $165 billion dollars worth of food per year, wasting 50 percent more food per capita, now, than they did in the 1970s.2

Here's how that breaks down: 3

  • Farming: Roughly 7 percent of the produce that's grown in the United States simply gets stranded on fields each year.
  • Post-harvest and packing: After crops have been gathered from the fields, farmers tend to cull produce to make sure it meets minimum standards for size, color, and weight.
  • Processing and distribution: Plenty of food gets trimmed in the manufacturing stage, though much of it is inedible anyway. Still, there's also a fair bit of avoidable waste.
  • Retail and grocery stores: The USDA estimates that supermarkets toss out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year.
  • Food service and restaurants: In restaurants, a good chunk of food is lost in the kitchen. And, on average, diners leave about 17 percent of their food uneaten. The report notes that portion sizes are a big reason for this, as portions have ballooned in the past 30 years.
  • Households: According to various estimates, American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. This can cost the average family between $1,365 to $2,275 annually.
  • Disposal: Only 3 percent of thrown-out food in the United States is composted. Most end up in landfills, where they decompose and release methane, a powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas. In fact, about 23 percent of U.S. methane emissions comes from landfill food.

What to do at home?
  • Root-to-Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable, 2013, by Tara Duggan.
    —Via Amazon
  • A list of some produce items and how long they stay fresh.
    —Via One Green Planet
  • Hints for making greens last longer.
    —Via Huffington Post
  • Freezing various foods, such as hummus and avocados.
    —Via Huffington Post.
  • A Washington, D.C. brewery and a restaurant collaborate on spent-grain bread loaves for a local charity.
    —Via PoPville.
  • And, from Pounds to Pocket, an infographic on "How to make fresh food last longer."

    Sources for the infographic: here.

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