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It seemed like the alternating winter and spring weather had finally ended and the cold weather plants were starting to thrive, and now this week, we jumped into summer.  

We will have to live with the weather we have and trust that we can harvest some good produce.

Last month, I said I would discuss some of the top ways to address our climate emergency suggested in the book “Drawdown,” starting with food waste.  

Though I was aware that global food waste was estimated to be 30-40% of food production, I was still overwhelmed by the statistics I found in my research.

Did you know that food waste takes up more landfill space in the USA than anything else, at 22%? Did you know that the USA discards more food than any other country — 40 million tons, 219 pounds per person per year at a total cost of $218 billion?  

Food spoilage (real or perceived) is the largest reason for food waste, with a family of four estimated to throw out $1600 worth of produce per year. 

If that $1,600 were saved for 20 years as your children grow up, that turns into $320,000 for education or some other need.

Besides food spoilage, the following reasons are why most Americans “waste” food: 

• They misunderstand expiration dates 

• They buy food impulsively

• They purchase more food than is needed

• They underuse leftovers

• They don’t compost

More food waste, 43%, comes from households, with the next three sources - restaurants, grocery stores and food services — combining for a total of 40%.

Of course, the environmental effects of food waste are tremendous, thus the high ranking that reducing food waste has to combat climate change. Globally, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, following China and the USA. 

The food lost or wasted worldwide, estimated to be 1.3 billion tons, also has a carbon footprint of approximately 3.3 billion tons of CO2. 

On top of this are all the extra amounts of energy, water, fertilizer and chemicals that are basically used for naught and also can have detrimental effects on our Mother Earth. 

With drought occurring more frequently in our country and around the world, the water that is used to grow food that is wasted is very significant.

Lastly, the food that is wasted, if distributed to those in need could actually eliminate hunger throughout the world. In fact, all the world’s one billion hungry people could be fed on less than one-fourth of the food wasted in the USA, U.K., and Europe. 

The U.S. Environmental Agency set a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.

Next month I’ll look at ways that people, agencies and businesses around the world are addressing this problem of food waste.  

In the meantime, be thinking about how your family can be part of the solution. 

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