UN Food and Agriculture Organization statistics illustrate a dire global problem: We squander nearly one third of our food through food waste (on the consumption side) and food losses (on the production side). In developed countries, over 40% of losses come from companies and consumers throwing out perfectly good food. And on the production side, we lose enough food to feed at least 48 million people due to inefficiencies in harvesting, storage and delivery, according to the FAO. The WorldWatch Institute is addressing the problem through its Nourishing the Planet project. Here are some holiday tips from them.
Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season
10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful
Washington, D.C.—-The holiday season is a time for gifts, decorations, and lots and lots of food. As a result, it’s also a time of spectacular amounts of waste. In the United States, we generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, including three times as much food waste as at other times of the year. When our total food waste adds up to 34 million tons each year, that equals a lot of food. With the holidays now upon us, the Worldwatch Institute offers 10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season less wasteful and more plentiful.
“Family, community, love and gratitude are all unlimited resources,” says Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. “Unfortunately, food and the energy, water and other natural resources that go into producing food are not. The logical strategy is to let ourselves go in enjoying the unlimited conviviality and communion of the holidays, but to avoid wasting the limited resources. Even simple shifts toward sustainability—-and reducing food waste is an easy one—-can have major impacts when multiplied by millions of people.”
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption—-approximately 1.3 billion tons—-is lost or wasted each year. Consumers in developed countries such as the United States are responsible for 222 million tons of this waste, or nearly the same quantity of food as is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
“With nearly a billion people going hungry in the world, including 17.2 million households within the United States, reducing the amount of food being wasted is incredibly important,” says Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project. “We need to start focusing on diverting food from going into our trashcans and landfills and instead getting it into the hands of those who need it most.”
The Nourishing the Planet (www.NourishingthePlanet.org) team recently traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, and soon will be traveling to Latin America, shining a spotlight on communities that serve as models for a more sustainable future. The project is unearthing innovations in agriculture that can help alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. These innovations are elaborated in Worldwatch’s annual flagship report, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.
As Americans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, here are 10 tips to help reduce the amount of food we waste: