An astonishing 40 percent of all the food grown in the United States goes to waste.
HOW IS FOOD WASTED IN THIS COUNTRY? Approximately one in five fruits and vegetables goes to waste on the farms where they’re grown.
Restaurants, caterers and others institutional food providers contribute heavily to food waste.
We, as consumers, contribute significantly to the nation’s food waste. We may not fully utilize the produce we buy. We may misinterpret standardized food labeling on food packaged in this country. The National Research Defense Council (NRDC) says, “Under the current labeling system, consumers often misinterpret the dates to mean that food must be discarded after the date for safety reasons, when in fact the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its freshest or peak quality.”
WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS TO FOOD WASTE? Awareness of the food waste crisis is very high among chefs and food re-distribution organizations. Chef Massimo Bottura, chef-owner of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, arguably one of the best restaurants in the world, is making the re-purposing of food waste to feed people in community kitchens his life’s work.
With more than 45 other chefs, Bottura’s book, “Bread is Gold” is the culmination of recipes the world’s top chefs are using every day, with imperfect and often out of date ingredients.
WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE? The easiest thing consumers can do to reduce food waste is to make whatever produce is in our refrigerator storage bins the star of our next meal. So, simple, thoughtful planning about how to incorporate existing food into the next meal before summarily tossing it out is a huge step forward.
Interestingly, a California-based company called Imperfect Produce now buys so-called “ugly” fruit and vegetables from local farms and delivers them to people’s homes by subscription at discount prices. The company broadened its reach from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Portland in Aug 2017. It’s like an inexpensive CSA (community supported agriculture). OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) reported that Imperfect Produce, with little marketing, added 1500 new subscribers in only a few weeks. Want Imperfect Produce’s five best tips for waste-free meal planning? Click here.
We can all be watchful of the food we buy and how we use it. Waste can be avoided by simple planning. The other important benefits of reducing food waste are: reducing the environmental impact of the methane gas produced by rotting food; and, helping to feed those among us who are hungry. Estimates are one in eight families in the U.S. are food-challenged.
I’m into Ugly Food!