Food waste is one of the largest problems of our time. In fact, about 30% of all food produced globally (1.3 billion tons) is wasted.
In this US alone, it’s upwards of 40%. If we could recover and redistribute that wasted food, we’d have enough to feed 190 million adults.
Sadly, because of quality standards that emphasize appearance, spoilage, transportation, and other challenges, the majority of that is nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that should form the bulk of our diet, and that many people have little access to in the first place.
The issue of food waste is farther-reaching than you might think. It’s an incredible waste of resources—the water, land, energy, labor, and capital needed to grow it are all wasted, too, when food is thrown away.
Plus, food waste is a major contributor to climate change in several ways. In fact, if food waste was represented as its own country it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter. Large conventional farms rely on fossil fuels for their farming practices, and then more fossil fuels are needed to transport food over long distances and keep perishables refrigerated, from the farm all the way until it reaches your fork. Then there is the issue of landfills, where wasted food sits and releases potent methane gas.
But there are so many things we can do to turn around the issue of food waste and the way it impacts our climate and food security. Becoming a conscious consumer, donating to your local food bank, composting, and growing your own food are all ways to lessen the impact from your own family.
One of my other favorite tools for combatting food waste is FreshPaper, a simple invention with huge benefits: you just slide the spice-infused paper into your produce boxes, bags, or drawers and it keeps them fresher, longer, so you have more time to enjoy them.
If you missed last week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, I interviewed the creator of FreshPaper, Kavita Shukla, to talk about how she discovered the power of ancient spices to keep produce fresh and what that means for the future of food waste throughout the entire supply process.
I hope you’ll tune in to hear more about changing our food system and fighting food waste.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD