The Problem And Solutions Of Food Waste


The problem

Have you ever thrown away an expired food item that you barely ate because you forgot it was there? Or thrown away your food simply because you didn’t like it? If so you, like most Americans, have contributed towards food waste. Americans throw away over 80 billion pounds of food each year which is equal to about 161 billion dollars and worldwide food waste contributes 4.4 gigatons in greenhouse gases annually. Yet 26 million Americans say they don’t have enough food to eat.

So where is all the waste coming from? Food waste happens during every stage of the supply chain. From when it is picked to when it arrives at your house. During production, food is going to waste if there is not enough labor to pick the entire harvest. After produce is picked it needs to be transported if not properly refrigerated and packaged it can go bad and if shipped internationally and help up in customs for long enough it can rot there. Retailers will order food in large amounts so that their produce section doesn’t look over-picked. Retailers will also throw away food if they deem it” too ugly” more than 50% of all produce in the U.S. is thrown away because of it. An estimate from 2018 says that the U.S. spends $218 billion to grow, process, transport, and dispose of food that is never eaten. But luckily for us and the earth, there is a way to cut down on food waste.

The solution

There are a few ways you can cut down on your waste. 1 is to read the expiration dates carefully. More than 80% of Americans discard perfectly good food because they don’t understand the expiration dates and terms like “sell by”, “use by” and “best before”. The U.S. government doesn’t regulate these terms so it's hard for consumers to know what the labels mean. “best if used by” describes the quality of the product. It might not taste as good as it did after this date. “use by” is a term used by food that will rot or become moldy after this point. A second way is to learn how to compost not only does it get rid of food waste but it’s good for the environment too. You can also give uneaten items to food drives or food banks if you know you’re not going to eat the food.

Reducing the food, you waste when eating out is also easy. The average American household spends 3,000 dollars a year eating out so think about how much money you might lose when you don’t eat all of it. 1 tip is to be thoughtful when eating at a restaurant and knowing if you can eat all that you have or are going to. 55% of leftover restaurant food doesn’t get taken home so take-home food that you don’t eat so that it doesn’t end up in landfills and release harmful methane gas. Places like all you can eat buffets also make you put more on your plate than you can eat so it’s a good idea to rethink going to places like that. When we reduce food waste, we save money and reduce climate change so that we're all better off.

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