We plant it, nurture it, harvest it, ship it, and buy it; then we throw it away.
Research from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that Americans throw away $218 billion worth of food every year that we could otherwise eat. This amounts to more than 400 pounds of yearly food waste per person, which is a level 10 times greater than in Southeast Asia.
Food is not all we’re wasting, as the land, energy and chemicals needed to produce that food go to waste as well. Even space is wasted, with the discarded food bloating landfills and producing more than 11 percent of the methane emissions that come from them nationally. Water is also going down the drain, since producing the wasted food accounts for 21 percent of national agricultural water use.
While this is occurring, one in eight Americans is without a secure food supply. According to the NRDC study, less than one-third of our wasted food could feed all of them every year.
This problem has several causes. One is a widespread misunderstanding of date codes. Others are overstocked store shelves, oversized restaurant portions, and a desire to bring to market only food that has the “correct” look, even if the “incorrect” looking food is healthy, safe, and delicious.
As food is relatively cheap, it is also easy to throw away. In addition, when people buy more food than they eat, it means more sales for food producers. These factors create a situation with little incentive for change at any level.
At GoodFarms, we are working hard to reduce food waste from field to fork. Specifically, we are working with progressive retailers and restaurants to offer our “imperfect” produce, often at substantial savings. We are searching for new ways to use our “imperfect” produce, including fresh juices and salsas. We are fighting for better labeling laws and practices. We are also working with food banks to donate excess food to those in need.