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Why Food Waste Matters, and How to Curb It

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Why Food Waste Matters, and How to Curb It

A healthy food culture values food from farm to table and back to the soil. In this interview with Nourish, journalist Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), explains how food waste squanders ecological resources and money. He also shares how families and food producers can reduce, recycle, and reuse that waste to feed more people and give back to the environment.

How much food do Americans waste, and where does it go?
Jonathan Bloom: Americans waste 40 percent of the food we grow and raise, when you look at the calories produced versus calories consumed. It’s staggering. As for how that happens, the short answer is that a decent chunk is squandered at each step of the food chain. Unfortunately, of the food thrown out, 97 percent goes straight into the landfill. Food rotting in landfills produces methane emissions, which contribute to climate change.

Why should we be concerned about food waste?
Jonathan Bloom: In addition to the issue of methane gas, wasted food represents a real squandering of precious resources. In particular, the large amounts of oil and water used to create our food go for naught when we waste as much as we do. Two percent of all US energy consumption goes to producing the food that we subsequently discard.

Food waste represents a $240 billion annual loss on a national level. Closer to home, trimming your household waste can amount to savings of more than $2,200 for the average of family of four.

It’s shameful to waste nearly half of our food when more Americans than ever before are food insecure. It’s all the more disgraceful considering that we throw out enough food to feed all of the world’s hungry.

Next: Simple tips for reducing food waste

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Read more: Community, Conscious Consumer, Conservation, Eco-friendly tips, Environment, Food, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Home, Household Hints, Life, Make a Difference, Nature, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , ,

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Nourish is an educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, particularly in schools and communities. To inform and inspire the largest number of people, Nourish combines PBS television, curriculum resources, web content, short films, and teacher and youth seminars. Nourish is a program of WorldLink, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainability.


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10:55PM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

if people stopped buying to much food more than they require that would curb the food wasted

4:15AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013


2:49AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

we live in the uk and in wales, where i live, we live on the outskirts of a city and an area of the city which is lucky enough to have food recycling that goes to compost sites. we don't put a lot in there, just the odd teabag and some veg peels when we do peel veg. most of the times, we cook veg with it on as that's where most of the nutrients are-just under the skin. we buy stuff off reduced so plan our meals around that, or freeze it and we plan what we will eat throughout the week. we go shopping only when we need it and will buy other things in bulk that will keep. we also use the dog for leftovers and he'll certainly not say no!

10:41PM PST on Nov 29, 2012


4:38PM PST on Nov 29, 2012


1:59PM PST on Nov 28, 2012

we've worked really hard to cut down on food waste and compost whatever we can.....think we only wasted about 10% at Thanksgiving.....and that was what people left on their plates only....

2:13AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

An average of $2,200 for a family of 4? That's seem incredible.

12:21AM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

thanks for sharing

9:38AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

Nice article. Thanks.

7:50AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

One big contributor to food waste is the publics perception to what food should look like and the amount of produce that is thrown away because it isn't "perfect" is ok to have a little brown spot on your apples and other produce.

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