Thursday, April 22, 2010
A Few Words About Food Waste on Earth Day...
How much food do we waste? The statistics are staggering. It is estimated that 30% of the food we produce, or about $48.3 billion annually is thrown away in the United States. But, this is only a small part of the picture.15-35 percent of crops are lost in the field and another 10-15 percent is discarded during transportation. It doesn't end there. The average American family of 4 throws away an estimated 122 pounds of food each and every month. A study conducted in 1995 estimated that 96.4 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year. Not only are we throwing away the food, we are also throwing away the resources used in producing this food. As much as half of the water used to produce food is wasted. In layman's terms, that's enough water to fill the needs of 500,000 families for a year. Add in the cost of labor and transportation and those numbers climb significantly.
Where does all of this food go that we throw away? To landfills. What's wrong with that? Food biodegrades. Right? The problem is, when food degrades, it creates methane gas. Methane gas is 20 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2). While we worry about what plastic and inorganic materials in the landfills are doing to the earth, we seldom think of the effect of the tons and tons of food we are throwing away every day.
It all seems so overwhelming doesn't it? How can just your little family make a difference? It can make a HUGE difference.Have a pound of ground beef sitting in the fridge that you forgot about and now it's went bad? Just throw it out, right? Did you know that it took 25,000 gallons of water to raise just one pound of beef for market?
Your family can start making changes today. We all need to be more concious about what we buy and how we use it. We buy far more food than our family can use. With careful menu planning, smart shopping and creative use of leftover food, we can turn all of this around.
Over the next several days, I will be posting some recipes that creatively use the leftovers that you probably have in your fridge right now. It's time to make a change. Change starts with you.