Farm to Fork...to Landfill?
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
What's the number one thing Americans send to landfills? Hint: it's not plastic. Food is the largest component of what we send to landfills in the U.S.
Why does that matter? When food goes to the landfill, the nutrients in the food never return to the soil. The wasted food rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide (CO2) in trapping heat within our atmosphere.
Food waste is particularly perplexing and ironic in the U.S., given that more than 70% of us are overweight and the fact that increasing income inequality has sharpened the divide between the rich and the food-insecure. Increased food availability (especially convenient, highly processed food) and effective marketing has left Americans with a supply of food that often far exceeds their daily required caloric intake.
As part of their recent food waste initiatives, the National Resource Defense Council has some pretty sobering infographics on the state of food waste in the U.S.
So, why do we waste food? According to NRDC's survey of three major cities (Denver, New York, and Nashville), forty-four percent of participants said they were getting rid of inedible portions; 20 percent reported moldy or spoiled food, and 11 percent indicated they weren’t interested in the leftovers. Only 4 percent of residents noted that they’d discarded food because it was past the date printed on the label.
Here's a chart of exactly what that food waste consists of:
Coffee and coffee grounds was most often pitched in the trash, trailed by bananas and chicken. Apples, bread, oranges, and potatoes also topped the list, as did discarded dairy products.
Now that we know about the scope of the problem, what can we do about it? That's the next topic - stay tuned!