U.S. Gov. Sets Goals to Reduce Food Waste By 50%

While Americans are slowly becoming more aware of the food waste epidemic in the country, not a lot has been done to fix it. Until now, there’s been no coordinated effort to combat food waste, and fixing this problem has been considered a matter of personal responsibility. On Wednesday, however, the federal government announced its first ever established goal to reduce food waste. Within 15 years, the U.S. hopes to cut food waste by 50 percent.

The plan is part of a joint venture by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department. So far, the 50 percent goal is aspirational rather than something that will be enforced, but the agencies pledge to roll out new programs in the upcoming years to help make food waste reduction realistic.

Halving the amount of food waste will be no small feat. As it stands, the average American family throws out $1,500 worth of groceries – or 2 million calories – every year. Altogether, that’s 133 billion pounds of food, or 31 percent of the nation’s food supply, going to waste. Though the extent of our waste may make it difficult to accomplish, it simultaneously makes it all the more important to succeed. Since the U.S. is one of the world’s worst at food waste, it bears the responsibility to right this wrong.

“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our new reduction goal demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, protecting our natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing loss and waste.”

All of this waste is ridiculous when you consider that about 17 percent of Americans go hungry due to a lack of food. With a better allocation of our existing food resources, no one would have to go without. That’s why the government hopes to expand the existing Food Recovery Challenge, which aims to move edible food that businesses would otherwise toss out to private charities that feed the needy. It’s often expensive for restaurants and stores to move food

While we can blame stores and restaurants to a certain extent, the majority of food waste occurs inside American homes. To convince American families to waste less, the government hopes to roll out educational campaigns that teach consumers how to be smarter about the food they buy. Not along ago, the USDA released an app that helps people to better understand and follow food expiration labels without tossing the food prematurely.

An educational campaign seems like a modest approach, but Vilsack reminded reporters of the litter problem that plagued the country when he was a child. It used to be acceptable for people to throw trash wherever until the country made a concerted effort to raise awareness on the harms of litter. If we can similarly convince Americans that wasting food is an embarrassing, harmful activity, real change is possible.

The EPA is involved in the government’s efforts because food waste is very much an environmental issue on top of everything else. A lot of water is used to grow crops and oil is used to transport the food. When this food goes uneaten, that’s a waste of precious resources – resources that emit carbon into atmosphere, no less. Most wasted food winds up in landfills, too, which turns into methane that further contributes to climate change.

If you want to do your part to help the U.S. hit its 50 percent goal, check out Care2’s 7 Smart Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

152 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

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Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloudabout a year ago

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

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