What is food waste?

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How often have you heard your parents tell you: “Finish your plate, in other countries children don’t have any food at all”. But often you might have just put too much on that plate, or ordered too much in a restaurant, or your family filled up the shopping cart in the grocery store with more food than you could ever eat in a certain amount of time. Eventually, this food will end up in the garbage. 

All over the world about one third of all foods are wasted — in every step from farm to fork. Did you know, for example that producing the meat for just half a burger requires as much water as taking a one-hour shower? The reason is that a cow needs enormous amounts of water to be raised, and it eats a lot of grains that could otherwise feed dozens of people. That means we are wasting water and grains for meat before we even get to “waste” food by not finishing what’s on our plates. 

Food is wasted during production, when farmers lack the skills to properly grow their crops or when severe weather destroys the harvest. It is wasted during transportation, when food goes bad due to the long distances it must travel to get to markets. It is wasted in the store, when it isn’t sold before its expiration date. And it is wasted in peoples’ homes, when food that is no longer needed is thrown in the trash can. 

If there wasn’t any food waste and all the food that is currently produced in the world would actually be eaten — there would be no hunger in the world. But food waste is not only a major problem for those that don’t get access to food, it also has a significant impact on our environment. If no food was wasted, forests would remain valuable ecosystems and not be cut down for more agriculture, oceans would retain their rich biodiversity if fishing were kept at sustainable levels, groundwater would remain clear of pesticides and fertilizer, and our atmosphere would contain fewer dangerous greenhouse gases. 

Finishing up your plate every day won’t solve the problem. But thinking about what kind of food and how much of it we need to be healthy and strong goes a long way.  What we put in our grocery cart has a big impact on our world. 
 
Thrown in the garbage…
On average, every person in the United States throws away two hundred pounds of food each year — enough to fill a 90,000 seat football stadium every day.1
 
What you can do
Think about what you eat! Eat meat and seafood in moderation, buy local and seasonal products, and don’t waste your food! Before buying or ordering food — think about how much you will actually finish eating. 

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