A new report urges Congress to make reducing food waste a priority in the 2023 farm bill in order to address climate change and hunger while benefiting the economy. The U.S. wastes more than one-third of the food it produces and imports, according to the report, published last week by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED and the World Wildlife Fund.
The Covid-19 pandemic made America’s food-waste problem worse, dramatically so in some cases, forcing the food sector to adapt and find creative ways to limit waste, according to an online panel discussion Tuesday hosted by ReFED, a nonprofit focused on ending waste across the food system.
Food systems account for roughly a third of global greenhouse emissions worldwide, yet a new analysis finds that strategies to reform how food is grown, processed and consumed are “startlingly absent” from most countries’ plans to tackle climate change. (No paywall)
The Champions 12.3 coalition, dedicated to the UN goal of halving food loss and waste by 2030, said on Tuesday it would begin a series of assemblies in October to encourage countries and companies to step up their efforts to reach that goal. More than one-third of food produced in the world is lost or wasted each year.
The Covid-19 pandemic upended the food supply chain in 2020, but massive quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico kept flowing into the border town of Nogales, Arizona. Not all of it made it to American tables, however, or even out of Nogales. Instead, as is the case every year, millions of pounds of misshapen or otherwise imperfect produce was diverted to the landfill. Despite the pandemic, Borderlands Food Rescue managed to keep up its longtime work of salvaging those less-than-perfect tomatoes, cucumbers, mangoes, and watermelons for people in need.(No paywall)
In 2016, California passed the nation’s most ambitious restrictions on landfilling food and yard waste, with the aim of slashing the greenhouse gases these organic materials generate when buried. The law mandated turning the waste into compost or biogas, with a goal of cutting landfill disposal by 50 percent, from 2014 levels, by the end of 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. But already, cities have fallen behind on setting up the costly systems for collecting and processing this waste. Starting Jan. 1, 2022, lagging communities could be fined up to $10,000 a day.(No paywall)
In a children's fable, a young woman was given the task of spinning straw into gold, an impossible challenge. A study commissioned by the Laudes Foundation says a real world alternative is available – conversion of food waste, such as rice straw and banana stems, into natural fibers for use in apparel.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed the need for structural changes to U.S. food distribution systems in order to tackle hunger, strengthen equity, and increase access to school meals during his keynote address Wednesday at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, a multi-day event co-sponsored by Feeding America and the Food Research & Action Center, in cooperation with the National CACFP Forum. (No paywall)
Nationwide, pork production has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last month, and industrial farmers find their barns filling up. Now, the "end for hundreds of thousands of pigs is likely to arrive in an orgy of waste that turns the stomachs of even the most pragmatic," writes Elizabeth Royte, in FERN's latest story. "Asked to describe how a farmer decides to 'depopulate' — the word of choice — a barn full of market-ready pigs, David Newman, a Missouri pig farmer and president of the National Pork Board, sighs heavily. 'It’s a tremendously emotional time to be in the livestock business. We’re trying to be creative.'”(No paywall)
With a 50-percent workforce decline at poultry plants owned by the Delaware chicken company Allen Harim, the company told poultry farmers last week that it will begin killing chickens in the field to reduce pressure on its remaining workers during the coronavirus pandemic.(No paywall)
Roughly 40 percent of all food produced ends up wasted, and now with coronavirus, it appears that the figure is going up – even while food insecurity is rising. So reports Elizabeth Royte in a FERN story with National Geographic, which digs into the bottlenecks that exist in our food system, especially when a huge portion of it shuts down. (No paywall)
The federal government generally stays away from the realm of date labels, such as "Sell by" or "Use by," on packaged food, except for infant formula. The Government Accountability Office, a congressional agency, recommended on Monday that the USDA and FDA collaborate with state and local governments for greater consumer understanding of date labels as a way to reduce food waste.
The World Resources Institute released a report Thursday that shows how the world could cut food waste by 50 percent by 2030, offering findings that are in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Achieving that goal would save money, feed people more sustainably, and fight climate change.
A restaurant in Toronto is avoiding food waste by chopping menu prices on Sunday night until all the food it wants to sell is gone, much to the delight of its diners, reports Jonathan Bloom in FERN’s latest story, produced in partnership with NPR’s The Salt.(No paywall)
Among the 40 percent of all food thrown out is this statistic: America’s school lunch programs waste $5 million in food every day. FERN’s latest story, published with Grist, focuses on Nancy Deming of the Oakland Unified School District, a leader in the movement to cut school food waste and redirect the food to students and people in need. Here’s the main take-aways:
Private companies are stepping up to tackle food waste, a new report finds, but governments lag behind in the race to meet a United Nations goal of cutting wasted food in half by 2030. The report was compiled by a coalition of executives and leaders of private companies, non-profits, and government agencies, called Champions 12.3, that work to reduce food waste internationally.
In a study on food waste in the United States, the World Wildlife Fund found that on a specific set of farms in four states, 40 percent of tomatoes, 39 percent of peaches, 56 percent of romaine lettuce, and 2 percent of processing potatoes were left in the field rather than harvested.
Top place in the 2017 Food Sustainability Index goes to a repeat winner, France, followed by Japan, Germany, Spain, and Sweden, says the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In Tucson, the Iskashitaa Refugee Network is helping refugees heal from trauma by gleaning fruit from backyards across the city. “Iskashitaa — which means 'working cooperatively together' in Somali Bantu, the ethnicity of many early volunteers — provides more than just healthy food,” writes Jonathan Bloom in FERN’s latest story, published with NPR’s The Salt.