Food Waste

A lot of people are not aware of the big problem of food waste. The problem is not only the food that gets thrown away in households. Big stores, farms, food factories and bakeries are throwing away and destroying unbelievably high amounts of food that is still good and not even expired. About a third of the international produced food – roughly 1.3 billion tones – is destroyed annually. Dana Gunders from the National Resources Defense Council says, that the way of the food from the farm to our plates costs the U.S. 10 percent of their entire energy budget, 50 percent of the American land, and 80 percent of the consumed freshwater in the United States. But still, 30 to 40% of the food gets destroyed in America. Another problem with food waste is that the wasted food could easily feed homeless people who can’t always afford their own meals. Truth is that there are approximately 600,000 homeless people in America alone and they don’t get to see a single piece of this leftover food.

Big companies, factories and stores definitely need to limit their food waste -maybe even food production – and find a way to give the food to people in need. The common population also needs to start to only buy the food that they really need, because American families on average throw out 25% of their food.

A reason for reducing food waste is that the countries lose a lot of money because of that. The huge amounts of energy and freshwater used in the production of food cost very much and if all that food  gets thrown away, it’s basically like throwing the country’s money away. In the USA for example food worth 48.3 billion Dollars gets wasted each year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Researches of the NRDC show that stores throw away their food several days before it is expired, which causes an average loss of 2,300$ daily per stores. Also families can save money by wasting less food. The average American family loses 1,600 to 2,300$ due to food that gets thrown away.

The problem of food waste is not just financial. A far less known issue is that food waste is very harmful to the environment. By reducing food waste, less fuel would be necessary for transportation and less methane would be produced due to rotting food. Methane is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and it is way more harmful than carbon dioxide.

Another argument for reducing food waste is that companies could help a lot of homeless and hungry people by giving them the leftover food. That means while stopping to create bad greenhouse gases, those companies are feeding people in need at the same time. Studies of the United States Department of Agriculture show,  that in 2014, 12.4 million adults and  914,000 children lived in households with very low food security. With just 15% of all the food losses, one could feed 25 million Americans each year according to the NRDC. Of course it is way easier for shops and factories to just throw food away and destroy it, it costs less money and less time. But if these companies would just produce less food in the first place, they could save themselves far bigger amounts of money. And if they are able to reduce methane emissions and do something useful with the money of the country, they should definitely use those opportunities.

The best and most efficient way to stop all that waste of food would probably be banning or restriction laws by the governments of the countries. A government should set national food waste restriction goals and maybe it should also start campaigns to show the population how they could help. If the stores would clarify the expiration dates on the food products, consumers would throw away far less food. And if there is still good food left that has to be thrown away by stores or factories, it should definitely be donated to hungry people. Those stores could open a little ‘shop’ where they give away free, expired, but still edible food. If it can’t be eaten by humans anymore, it still can be used as animal food. It is also possible to turn the waste into energy, which should be done more often.

 

food waste composting
Food waste from Cedar Rapids and Marion Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores will be worked into yard waste and composted at the Solid Waste Agency’s compost site at the Site 1 landfill on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)

Those solutions should help to reduce food waste or to use the waste for good purposes. Anything is better than simply destroying food, because it causes big losses of money, it is harmful for the environment and it takes away a possible food source for hungry and homeless people.

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