No brainer: Ending food waste could feed hungry and save money (Thinkstock)
No brainer: Ending food waste could feed hungry and save money
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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a goal to cut the amount of food that Americans waste. He wants to reduce waste by 50 percent. He wants it to happen by 2030.
 
"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on Earth. Too much of this food goes to waste," Vilsack said in New York City. He was joined by food-industry representatives. He was also joined by officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
Vilsack compared the effort to reduce food waste to anti-littering campaigns. The were on in the 1960s and '70s. Those shamed Americans for tossing trash out car windows.
 
"This is the logical extension," he said. "This is the next litter campaign."
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food every year. That is 31 percent of Americans' overall food supply.
 
Vilsack said other nations waste similar amounts. He said the U.S. must lead a global effort. Food must be used more efficiently.
 
"This is an opportunity for us to make a statement and provide leadership," he said.
 
EPA officials said the huge waste is a problem. It is not just because the food could feed the hungry but it is also because it ends up in landfills. That means it affects the environment.
 
"Twenty-one percent of all the waste in landfills is food," EPA Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg said. "Once it is there, it produces methane." He explained that methane is a greenhouse gas.
 
Leslie Sarasin is president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute. It is a food retailers' trade association. The president said the industry supports cutting food waste. That is because the industry operates on a "razor-thin" margin of 1 or 2 percent.
 
"Reducing food waste at all levels in the food chain - farm, factory, store and home - is certainly one of those issues with economic and emotional appeal," she said.
 
The officials spoke at a facility in Long Island City, Queens. It is operated by the nonprofit City Harvest. The organization started in 1982. It is an effort to save extra food from restaurants. City Harvest now takes donations from businesses and farmers. Then it delivers it to 500 food banks and soup kitchens.
 
Vilsack toured the warehouse. It was packed with donated produce like carrots. They were too big to sell. Vilsack called it "truly inspiring."
 
He said the campaign to cut food waste includes educating consumers. One example might be how long food can be kept before it must be thrown out.
 
He said he recently used the USDA's new mobile FoodKeeper app.  He wanted to determine whether chicken salad in his refrigerator was still good.
 
It was. And he ate it.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
If it's a no brainer, why do Americans waste so much food?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (67)
  • taylornelson-bak
    9/23/2015 - 03:21 p.m.

    I think saving the u.s.a is good.????????????

  • shauniem-war
    9/25/2015 - 08:41 a.m.

    I believe that if Americans a whole cut down their wasting it would help the starving Americans. But what about the other countries, that have people living in poverty and are starving. Americans could help some of them but not all of them. People all over the world should start doing the same thing.

  • elizabethl-mel
    9/29/2015 - 10:14 a.m.

    Maybe people don't realize how much food they waste and pretty soon it piles up in the landfills and a whole bunch of food is wasted.

  • ashp-
    2/23/2017 - 11:07 a.m.

    I agree with Vilsack that we should be more aware about how much food we're wasting because this is really bad. It is an abomination that stores don't sell food because it is "to big", it is still food. I think that we really should start maybe composting and things like that because they are also right that the landfills are a big problem.

  • stej-
    2/23/2017 - 11:08 a.m.

    That I am surprised that americans waste 33billion pounds of food a year

  • alef-
    2/23/2017 - 11:10 a.m.

    I think that Americans waste so much food because they probably don't want to have leftovers in their fridge and the don't want to save their food for a long time.

  • madj-
    2/23/2017 - 11:10 a.m.

    That how much food was wasted in one year.Americans waste 33 billion pounds a year. I wonder how much pounds of food one family produces in one year.

  • shes-
    2/23/2017 - 11:11 a.m.

    Many People don't realize that throwing away food is hurting other people who don't have food. They could give more people that don't have food food. The Americans who waste food should not put as much as they would on their plate, and if they want more, get a second serving, but less than you did the first time, and when there are leftovers, donate it.

  • edry-
    2/23/2017 - 11:12 a.m.

    The Americans don't think about all the people who are limited to food, they just throw it away like its trash. We should be more mindful of the food we waste.

  • shrs-
    2/23/2017 - 11:12 a.m.

    Maybe the people who throw away the food maybe don't like the food ?

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