The Food Waste Issue

The+Food+Waste+Issue

Eli Kayser, Editor

An issue that has plagued society more and more over the years is our incessant waste of food. We see it every day. From slightly misshapen fruit to throwing out old leftovers, we don’t seem to care about how much food goes to waste. Each year in the United States, an estimated 80 billion or more pounds of food goes to waste. Plenty of perfectly edible food is sent to landfills that could instead be used to help families in need. Food piles up in landfills, and as it decomposes, it releases dangerous gases into the atmosphere which is a contributor to climate change.

What is being done?

Not much, to say the least.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a plan in place to greatly reduce the amount of food being wasted by 2030. They are trying to cut down on the amount of food being sent to landfills and manage food more efficiently in order to ensure less is wasted.

Yeah, so the EPA isn’t very clear as to what their plan is on cutting food waste, but there is plenty that you can be doing to help with this.

What can we do?

  • Composting

A common practice among gardeners everywhere, composting is breaking down organic matter to enrich soil in order to help plants grow. Composting is a great way to cut down on the amount of food you waste. If you have old produce that you forgot about in the back of the fridge, you can put it in a composting bin instead of throwing it out. As the layers of compost break down, you can add more and more of it to your plants. The plants use the old produce as extra energy to help them grow.

  • Realize what expiration dates mean

There is a large difference between “sell by” , “best by” and “expires on” dates. Many people will mix them up, and think that the food is spoiled if past the “sell by” date. This is completely wrong. The “sell by” date is for the retailer to know when they want to sell the product, in order to make room for new shipments. “Best by” dates are just to warn the consumer that the product might not be at its freshest after that date. Many people throw out produce after the “best by” date, not realizing that it will still be good to eat for a while.

  • Start an in-home garden

You don’t have to have a big outdoor garden with rows of carrots, potatoes, and spinach to help cut down on food waste. It can be as simple as planting some unused seeds in pots around your home. There are many fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are easy to grow at home. You just need sunlight, water, and soil of some sort. It is extremely simple, and cuts down on the leftover produce parts that would have just gotten thrown away otherwise.

What could happen if nothing is done?

The climate crisis is a big issue throughout the planet right now. As more and more carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere, we are getting closer and closer to a breaking point. Carbon emissions could be the least of our worries, though. When food waste breaks down, it releases methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 28 times stronger than carbon dioxide. It is much more damaging to our environment.

As you can see, this is a large issue that needs to be stopped, or else we could see catastrophic consequences. You can do very simple things to help, whether it be adding compost to your outdoor pile, or picking up the two-pronged carrot at the supermarket. Hopefully, we can get one step closer to a healthier environment.

 

https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/united-states-2030-food-loss-and-waste-reduction-goal#:~:text=The%202030%20FLW%20reduction%20goal%20aims%20to%20reduce%20food%20waste,to%20109.4%20pounds%20per%20person.&text=The%202030%20FLW%20reduction%20goal%20aims%20to%20cut%20food%20loss,by%20approximately%2066%20billion%20pounds.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste

https://www.tomsofmaine.com/good-matters/thinking-sustainably/how-to-start-an-indoor-garden

https://www.roadrunnerwm.com/blog/understanding-the-food-waste-problem-and-how-you-can-help#:~:text=When%20food%20waste%20ends%20up,fertilizers%20used%20to%20produce%20it.