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 by 50 percent by 2030.
 
"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on Earth, so too much of this food goes to waste," Vilsack said in New York City, where he was joined by food-industry representatives and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
Vilsack likened the effort to reduce food waste to the anti-littering campaigns of the 1960s and '70s that 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, or 31 percent of their overall food supply.
 
Vilsack said other nations waste similar amounts and the U.S. must lead a global effort to use food more efficiently.
 
"This is an opportunity for us to make a statement and provide leadership," he said.
 
EPA officials said the massive waste is a problem not just because the food could feed the hungry but also because it ends up in landfills and affects the environment.
 
"Twenty-one percent of all the waste in landfills is food," EPA Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg said. "Once it's there, it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas."
 
Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, a food retailers' trade association, said the industry supports cutting food waste because it 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, operated by the nonprofit City Harvest, which started in 1982 as an effort to salvage excess food from restaurants. City Harvest now takes donations from businesses and farmers and delivers it to 500 food banks and soup kitchens.
 
Vilsack toured the warehouse packed with donated produce like carrots that were too big to sell and called it "truly inspiring."
 
He said the campaign to cut food waste includes educating consumers about how long to keep food before it must be thrown out.
 
He said he recently used the USDA's new mobile FoodKeeper app 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 (63)
  • jordynd-day
    9/23/2015 - 04:13 p.m.

    I think part of our country's issue is that we have huge portion sizes. I've often heard people from other countries say how big our food portions are and how ridiculous it is. If we could possibly reduce portion sizes it could potentially make a difference in how much food is wasted. Donating food to food shelters is also a very good alternative to just throwing unwanted or excess food out.

  • kristam-pla
    9/23/2015 - 06:15 p.m.

    I knew that Americans wasted a lot of food, but I had no idea it was that much! Vilsack has a good idea and goal, and I will certainly be trying my best to help out as well. I'm going to have to look up that FoodKeeper app now, too!

  • win,emma-cas
    9/23/2015 - 09:05 p.m.

    1. It's a no brainer that wasting food is a bad thing. However, the majority of people do not think too deeply about things such as this. They do not think: "maybe I should stop wasting food so that it doesn't end up in landfills and produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas that'll trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming." People just throw away food when it's convenient for them, as long as its negative effects aren't immediate and don't effect them.

    2. In my opinion, I think that food waste is a problem. However, it'll be very difficult to fix this problem. Many people are not concerned for such things and will continue to throw away and waste food.

    • laurenc-bag
      9/29/2015 - 07:00 p.m.

      That's a great way of looking at it. :)

  • kendallm-pla
    9/23/2015 - 09:28 p.m.

    This article demonstrates a very important effort in the world today, reducing food waste. It is an issue that we throw away so much food and that much of the world goes hungry. I view examples of food waste in the cafeteria at school everyday. Kids rarely eat all of the food on their trays, and in this context it seems extremely wasteful. What goes on in the world is our responsibility and hopefully with this initiative people will become more aware of how they waste their food and we can change it.

  • mindarako-pla
    9/23/2015 - 10:09 p.m.

    The main idea of this article is that the US needs to be more conscious about throwing out food and needs to cut food waste by half. This topic is a pretty big deal because there are people in parts of the world that are malnourished and could be eating the food that is wasted, but it ends up in landfills creating environmental problems. Personally I think that the US should really try to stop food waste by 50 percent by 2030 because not only does it seem like a feasible goal, but it also is good for the population and the planet which are both really important.

  • madisonb-pla
    9/24/2015 - 10:42 a.m.

    Americans waste about 31% of their total food supply. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wants to cut down on the amount of food Americans waste by 50% by the year 2030. He is calling this "the next litter campaign," referring to the 60's and 70's campaign that shamed Americans for throwing food out of their cars. Vilsack hopes that the U.S. will lead a global effort to use food more efficiently.

    - This article appeals to Human Interest. They article encourages those to use food more efficiently, as well as be more conscious of ways that we waste food.

  • ianc-day
    9/24/2015 - 11:01 a.m.

    This article is true if we do not start to cut down on food waste. The waste will increase the spread of rodents and other things like diseases that we don't want to have around us. The way we waste food is terrible because we are eating only what we want and throwing the rest away while all over the world people are starving. Are there any other ways people can help with this issue? Plus there is an app to tell if chicken salad in a fridge is still good, and that's cool.

  • sierrab-ste
    9/24/2015 - 12:06 p.m.

    I agree that this is a huge issue and that we need to lessen it, however how do they plan to stop it. They've been trying to stop food waste for years and have not been able to. They say they're going to stop it by 50% but I just don't understand how that is going to work out. If it would work though, that'd be amazing.

  • analeye-
    9/24/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    Is there a way we can help this tribute?

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