Food waste in the United States is abhorrent. Americans waste 150,000 tons of food on a daily basis. This is equal to one pound of food for every person. On a daily basis. There are two major culprits: supermarkets and everyday consumers.
According to a report from The Guardian, food waste takes a major environmental toll. The discarded food clogs up landfills and releases methane gas into the environment, which is a natural, but powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Not to mention that food waste is costly. Not only is it costing the farming industry money, but it’s also wasting money on the consumer level. Every piece of perfectly good food that you throw out costs you money. To be exact, according to ReFED, it costs about $144 billion.
According to Lisa Jahns, a nutritionist who works for the USDA, the only way to reduce food waste in households is to educate consumers on how to store and preserve produce and other foods so that they do not go bad so quickly.
While 50 percent of all food waste in the US is caused by everyday consumers, the other 50 percent is caused by supermarkets. A report from the Center for Biological Diversity found that only four of the top 10 grocery chains in the country had any program in place to reduce food waste. Actual surprise, Walmart has the best program in place.
One of the major sources of food waste comes from supermarkets refusing to buy blemished or “ugly” fruit. According to The Guardian, 60 million tons of produce is lost or thrown away because of this. This is $160 billion worth of food. Farmers won’t pick ugly fruit to save the labor or it is left to rot and be thrown out in a warehouse because it’s not pretty enough to be sold in stores.
To combat this food waste problem are companies that are striving to make a difference in the food industry. They may not be able to do anything about the food waste in households, but they can certainly help reduce the amount of produce thrown away because of imperfections. Here are a few of them:
More than 20% of the fruits and vegetables grown in America never make it off the farm because they aren’t perfect enough for grocery store standards.
Imperfect Produce will purchase ugly produce directly from farms in order to compile it into a subscription box and deliver it to consumers. The cost comes to about 30% less than grocery store costs, which opens this service up to lower income families.
The injustice of wasting this much edible food when 20% in the US lack access to a nutritious diet is plenty reason to rescue this produce & help mend a broken food system.
Much like Imperfect Produce, Hungry Harvest buys imperfect produce and delivers it to consumers for less than supermarket prices. Their focus remains on both the environment impact of food waste and the fact that lower income families don’t always have access to healthy food.
Our mission is to support small, local farms by utilizing the whole harvest to make gourmet food products.
Preserve Farm Kitchens takes produce that local farms plan to throw away, either for cosmetic purposes or because they simply couldn’t sell it, and makes them into jams, sauces and preserves. This extends the life of the produce, lets the farms benefit from their entire harvest, and gives consumers something yummy to buy without worrying about whether or not the fruit or veggie was ugly.
4. Misfit Foods
Our products are made with supply chain inefficiencies like “ugly” produce that usually fills landfills because they don’t fit our grocery store ideals.
Misfit Foods operates similarly to Preserve Farm Kitchens. Starting out as a juicery service in DC, Philly and NYC, Misfit would take ugly produce and make it into juice for consumer consumption. Now, they create a wide variety of foods from ugly produce and fresh cut products.
Consider ditching big supermarket chains and look into purchasing your produce either directly from local farms or from companies like the ones I’ve listed above. Before throwing out food, consider the options to extend it’s life so that it actually gets eaten. Not only will this help the environment and the farming industry, but it will also help your wallet. The options are out there, you just have to look for them!