The U.K. Government is backing a proposal that would help end supermarket waste while also helping the hungry. Retailers would enter details of food that was nearing its expiration date into a database. Nonprofits would use that information to pick up and get the food to those who need it. The U.S. should have a similar program.
This week the Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, signed legislation allowing fish, previously going to waste, to feed the hungry instead. The new law allows bycatch, fish caught unintentionally while fishing for other species, to be processed for food bank distribution. As Gov. Kitzhaber puts it “This innovative solution helps the fishing industry and food processors to reduce waste while bringing food to people who are hungry.”
We definitely need more state officials thinking like him.
According to the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.5% of U.S. households (17.2 million households or 48.8 million Americans) were food insecure in 2010. That means that 17.2 million homes in the U.S. had difficulty at some point during the year in providing enough food due to a lack of resources. That left 16.2 million children under the age of 18 – more than 1 out of 6 – hungry and unable consistently to find adequate, healthy food.
During the same year – 2010 – more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated in the United States. After paper, this is the second largest amount of waste generated. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Food waste accounted for almost 14 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream, less than three percent of which was recovered and recycled in 2010. The rest —33 million tons— was thrown away, making food waste the single largest component of MSW (municipal solid waste) reaching landfills and incinerators.”
Some food waste is inevitable, but in a developed country where 33 million tons of food is wasted in a year, how can we still have hungry people? The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming is looking at the food waste problem to see what’s wrong and what we as consumers can do to lessen our impact on the environment and to help US citizens find consistent access to healthier food.
Stay tuned – a website is underway and will be up in several months. We will have more information for you shortly, and we will keep you updated on our progress and anything interesting we find here on the Guide to Good Food blog.