Food Waste: Ways to Reduce & Eliminate the Problem

“Food waste is an incredible and absurd issue for the world today.”
Jose Lopez, Nestle’s head of operations.

By: Nalee Vang, Communications Intern

According to the World Food Day Website, 40 percent of food grown or raise in the United States and roughly a third of the food produced worldwide never gets eaten. Even more surprising, one in six Ohioans is food insecure, yet in Ohio, agriculture employs one in seven. How could that be? Food waste has become one of the biggest problems here in the U.S., and it remains an issue that warrants our undivided attention.


The Waldt family of New Jersey, avid gardeners and composters, are surrounded by groceries representing the 1.2 million calories the average family leaves uneaten every year—more than enough to feed another mouth. The food was later donated to a nonprofit. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


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There is some degree of measurable food waste in every step of food production. In the field, weather, overproduction, market uncertainty, and consumer demand for the “perfect” fruit or vegetable on display all contribute to food waste. Perishable food often bruises, decays or is damaged during shipping, packaging or storage. From there, food continues to be wasted at the retail market level where it goes unpurchased or is mishandled. Then there is the consumer, often the biggest wasters of food in the home.

WE are the biggest contributors, but WE also have the power and potential to eliminate food waste by practicing a more sustainable life. What can you do at home, on the farm, in your school or community to reduce food waste?

Learn, track, share, engage. Begin with making a decision to reduce your personal food waste. Track your habits related to food with a journal to see trends and how you can develop solutions and implement change. Share your information with friends, family and community members and raise awareness.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Look for ways to reduce food waste in other places like your home, farm, backyard, garden, school or community. Feed leftover vegetable and fruit scraps to backyard poultry or recycle by composting. On the farm, practice grazing management strategies that make use of ruminant (four stomachs) animals that are able to process forages that we monogastrics (one stomach) cannot.

Plan meals. Take an hour of your time each week and plan a weekly menu. Make your weekly grocery and farmers market shopping list and only purchase what you will eat. Shop and buy locally or regionally. Considering preserving or freezing garden extras to use at a later date when not in season.

Volunteer or donate. Through actively volunteering for your cause, you will gain valuable knowledge first-hand experience about the food waste challenges faced by community organizations in your area. Also check out local food banks, pantries and hunger organizations, food donation stations and centers. They work had to reduce food waste and redistribute safe and edible food to populations in need.

Familiarize yourself. Learn more about “hot topics” related to food waste and be more educated in these issues. To learn is to know and to know is help solve the issues.


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