Stomping out Foodprints

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A study published last summer broadcast an alarming statistic: that nearly half of the total American food supply (approximately $165 BILLION annually) gets dumped in the trash.

“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That’s money and precious resources down the drain,” Dana Gunders, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food and agriculture program told press in August.

The news isn’t much better elsewhere in the world.

In response, the United Nations has launched a global campaign to cut food waste and encourage thinning of the almost $1 trillion (1.3 billion tonnes) worth of food produced and then sent straight to landfill each year.

“In a world of 7 billion people, set to grow to 9 billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically.” – Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director.

The campaign is called ‘Think, Eat, Save: Reduce Your Foodprint’ and encourages everyone from farmers and families to supermarkets and restaurants to take simple, essential steps to reduce the amounts of food they waste.

The UN’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) spokesperson explained that in industrialized regions almost half of food tossed is ditched for aesthetic reasons—perfectly good food thrown out by producer and consumer because it’s bruised, or misshapen, or comes too near its best before date. (Read: No Room for Uglies)

“This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.” José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General.

The effects of wasted food go well beyond the food wasted. The amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, land, water, fertilizers and labour efforts gone into growing, transporting, and decomposing tonnes of food product are extensive, expensive, and unsustainable.

U.S. researchers quoted by CBC confirm that Americans are wasting food at a rate of 1,400 calories per person per day—rates that have implications for both obesity and climate change. Food waste is believed to now account for more than one quarter of the total freshwater consumption and 300 million barrels of oil per year.

Methane from food waste rotting in landfills is 25% more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Watch Michael Pollan, author of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and ‘In Defence Of Food’ on CBC’s Strombo show with George Stroumboulopoulos.

Visit http://www.thinkeatsave.org for tips on how to reduce your Foodprint.

With files from: CBC, Huffington Post.

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Jessica is a writer based in Vancouver, BC. Jessica's Personal Website: http://about.me/jessica.linnay