How to do this is not exactly rocket science. Noting that two-thirds of UK consumers throw away fresh fruits and vegetables (these are the types of food most likely to be wasted in general), the Love Food Hate Waste campaign calls for innovations involving changes in packaging, labels that indicate where it’s best to store certain foods and meal-planning suggestions.
U.S. supermarket chain Stop and Shop saved some $100 million after analyzing “freshness, shrink, and customer satisfaction in their perishables department,” says Gundar. Such studies are a key first step for businesses to understand how much food waste they are generating and to make changes.
So What Can We Do to Cut Down on Food Waste?
Efforts in the U.S. to cut down on food waste exist. But they are just the tip of the iceberg (or rather, of the landfill). The EPA has a program, Food Recovery Challenge, that is certainly in the right direction — it recognizes businesses that have taken steps to reduce food waste and promotes best practices — but a systematic approach is needed.
In Grist, Gundars calls on the U.S. government to undertake a far-reaching study about food waste in the U.S., establish national goals and take action. In addition to the sort of awareness of the UK’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, Gundars highlights the need for the government to make laws with the goal of reducing food waste. For instance, small businesses could be given tax deductions for donating food; such a deduction expired in December of 2011 but could be restored if Congress passes H.R. 3729. In addition, farms could be offered tax credits for donating excess food produce to food banks (Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon currently have laws for this).
National action is necessary but we can take small steps too, whether by buying fruits and vegetables that aren’t picture-perfect, getting a better grasp about expiration dates on food (Gunders writes that “use-by” dates “do not necessarily indicate food safety” and need to be standardized) and revamp our food buying and storing practices (the NRDC has information about leftovers and food storage containers).
An Oxfam report, Extreme Weather, Extreme Price, details how extreme weather (floods and droughts like the one that baked the Midwest this past summer and is still going on, with dire results for the corn crop) could drastically drive up food prices.
It’s not only ridiculous, but outrageous for us to be dumping so much food into the garbage as people around the world starve. How about making a small start by checking out some of NRDC’s tips for shopping wise before filling your grocery cart with food, almost half of which you’ll just find yourself filling your garbage can with?
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