Food Waste: A Global Issue
By Shannon McInteer
In the documentary, Wasted!, we are taken on a journey that shines a light on a massive global problem – food waste. In America, about 40 percent of produced food goes to waste and over 90 percent of it ends up in landfills. When food ends up in landfills, it can take years to decompose and produces methane gas – a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, which is contributing to the climate change crisis. In addition, food waste is the biggest cause for deforestation, water extraction, habitat loss and biodiversity loss. So, how can we go about reducing our food waste?
There are multiple companies, agencies and organizations that are battling the global food waste problem. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency has created a “Food Waste Pyramid” as a guide on what can be done with leftover food to keep it out of landfills. In addition, Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store in Boston, reduces food waste by providing food that is healthy, affordable and close to its expiration for the community. Speaking of those expiration labels, the “best if used by” or “sell by” codes are really only there so food can be rotated, something to consider during your next trip to the grocery store.
Another company, Toast Ale, uses fresh-wasted bread to create beer and uses leftover grain to feed livestock. The company claims that bread is one of the most wasted household food items. Meanwhile, in Japan, they have implemented Food Waste Recycling laws where food waste has to be fed to livestock. They’ve designed a revolutionary operation called Eco-feed. This operation turns food scraps into probiotics and vitamins for livestock, which are then consumed by humans. Thus, humans who eat these livestock also get a boost of probiotics and vitamins added to their diet.
Europe has also been making some changes to reducing food waste. For instance, Italy has passed a law in which supermarkets are required to donate their leftover food to charities, while France has made it illegal for retailers to throw away unsold food. Now you may ask, can they get in trouble for donating food? Or what if someone gets sick? Well, the answer is – The Good Samaritan Act. This act protects restaurants and grocery stores from any liability issues if they donate food. Wasted food can also be turned into energy through anaerobic digestion, which is done by the yogurt company, Yoplait.
Now, to reiterate, the biggest impact of food waste is on land use change, loss of forests, water and animal species. And because of our vital, consistent diets, farmers are planting the same commodity crop over and over again, which is not how nature works. The documentary suggests that as a society, we should be more open to different food options that may not look appealing, but taste delicious. On an individual level, we can shop smarter by making shopping lists, planning out meals and buying local and in-season food. We can also take action by composting our food scraps or getting involved with organizations such as Feedback, NRDC and ReFED.
In conclusion, there are various ways to reduce food waste. The best way would be to lower our food consumption and recycle food scraps by composting or turning wasted food into energy. This will not only save money, but it will have a positive impact on the environment.
Here are different ways you can watch Wasted!: http://www.wastedfilm.com/watch-at-home/.