Food Waste

At the opening of the November 2019 conference of the United Nations World Food Programme, Pope Francis stated:

If we wish to build a future where no one is left behind, we must create a present that radically rejects the squandering of food.

But an estimated one third of all food produced in the world is never eaten. And in the US, the percentage is even higher: 40%. At the same time, 800 million people in the world go hungry. And the majority of food waste ends up in landfills, contributing 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. 

And food production is the single biggest cause of deforestation; the single biggest user of water and the single biggest cause of habitat and biodiversity loss. We don’t need to produce more food, we need to act differently. 

Many of these statistics were taken from the film Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, which you can watch on a number of video services.

Many municipality and national policy changes need to be made to reduce food waste and their greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing hunger. At the policy level, you can help by contacting your government representatives and demanding more attention to food waste. You can also help at a personal level by making sure you waste as little food as possible. One tip I learned from the Wasted! Film: use the smell test (i..e, your nose) rather than relying on the overly-conservative best use/sell by dates printed on store bought foods. Consider donating food and money to food banks and other groups who redirect unwanted food to the poor. And don’t forget to teach your children to avoid wasting food too.

Working together, we can help take care of our common home.

Paul Litwin

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