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. He wants it to happen 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. 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. 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 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. 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'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. 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, which started in 1982 as an effort to salvage excess 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 that 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 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 (51)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    9/23/2015 - 07:02 p.m.

    I think that this must be important because people should know that the food that they are eating that they don't like and they throw it away in the trash, the food is also a contribute to global warming, as it dissolves, it turns to methane which is greenhouse gas. Also America has the most abundant food for people to eat which some countries where people live are starving which people are most likely delivering food to countries where people are starving for food.
    Critical Thinking Question: If it's a no brainer, why do Americans waste so much food?
    Answer: American waste so much food because children who have something to eat that they don't like to eat, they just throw the food that they don't like in the trash which is a waste of food in America.

  • colek-1-bar
    9/23/2015 - 07:26 p.m.

    Americans waste so much food because they have an abundance of it. They never think what would happen if they didn't have any food, so they use and waste as much food as their hearts desire. I found this article pretty interesting. It did not surprise me that Americans waste food because I know how much un-eaten food goes into the landfill everyday in America.

  • reidi-4-bar
    9/23/2015 - 10:43 p.m.

    21% of landfill waste is food, this is bad for the economy. Once the food is in the landfill it produces methane which is a greenhouse gas. This campaign also includes educating consumers. One example is telling consumers how long food will last. I like this article and strongly agree with the campaign

  • nicholas-rod
    9/24/2015 - 12:29 p.m.

    i think its good that they give the food away to other uses it also should be given to the people who don't have food but thats just me saying that i hope other people believe in the same thing i believe

  • shaylab-dav
    9/24/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    Americans waste so much because in my opinion people think that others are going to do the right thing so they say that this one thing that I am throwing out couldn't possibly have an effect on the planet so i'll throw it out anyway.

  • marzzacco,chloe-cas
    9/24/2015 - 04:39 p.m.

    1. Americans waist a lot of food, because we are not educated in what it does. Wasting food can cause biological issues in the atmosphere which is why the green house gases are so strong. Another reason is because when the government put mandates on the school lunches, the children wont eat the lunches due to what they put in it now. This causes America to have the most expensive garbage in the world. 2. I believe that we should put this into effect. It will help us reduce waste and save money wile doing so. In the future it could help some people in need eat wile also cleaning up the biosphere

  • pipern-2-bar
    9/24/2015 - 06:06 p.m.

    I think that Americans waste so much food because we are selfish.Most Americans do not know what it is like to be starving and that food is just right there in the refrigerator.Other people all over the world are scraping up little bits of food to feed their families for one night. Since Americans waste thirty-one percent of their food,we should only be given sixty-nine percent of what we actually do eat.I like this article because it makes me more aware about wasting food.

  • jasminec-6-bar
    9/24/2015 - 09:32 p.m.

    I think that the reason americans waste so much is that they don't really understand how many problems it creates, for example releasing methane (a green house gas), where the wasted food actually ends up, and I think that they do not believe anyone else would truly want it even though it could feed the hungry and save the U.S a ton of money.
    I found this article very interesting and learned that Americans waste 31% of our food supply and that we are not the only one's who waste that much food, sadly.

  • John0724-YYCA
    9/24/2015 - 09:49 p.m.

    I think that the anti littering campaign is a very good idea because right now so many people are trashing a lot of valuable food that it could save a lot of people that don't have food or can't afford food. I really think that right now there are lot of problems these days.

  • elijahb-6-bar
    9/24/2015 - 10:32 p.m.

    Americans waste so much food because at it says in the article "The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on Earth. So too much of this food goes to waste,". I think we should not waste food at all and I didn't think we wasted 133 billion pounds a year of food. I really hope we all fix this problem.

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