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A tremendous amount of food is wasted.  According to this report:

Hard data is still being collected, but experts at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week said an estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten.

Some more details from the piece:
The average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month -- about $40 worth -- according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which plans to publish a report on food waste in April.

In a year, that means each person throws away almost 400 pounds of food, the weight of an adult male gorilla.

This has huge consequences, for example for resources:
Agriculture is the world's largest user of water, a big consumer of energy and chemicals and major emitter of greenhouse gases during production, distribution and landfill decay.
On the other hand, Americans have notoriously been getting fatter, which produces a host of other problems.

What can we do about it?

1. Buy less.    That has been the reaction of some:

"We forget we have all these fresh fruits and vegetables, and at the end of the week we have to throw them away," said Esther Gove, a mother of three young children in South Berwick, Maine. "Now, I don't buy as much fresh produce as I used to."
It is important to be realistic about what you will and will not eat.

2. Use a fruit bowl or platter.

If you see it, you're much more likely to eat it.  After a while it becomes second nature to reach for a banana or a few grapes.

3. Use smaller plates Over the last twenty to thirty years, plate have increased in diameter from 9 inches to 12 inches. Those who remember geometry - and pi day was just yesterday - will realize that this is an increase of nearly 80% (1.33^2 - 1.00).  

4. Have good storage containers.

Just a few suggestions from a world citizen.  Please, add your own below!

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Want to learn more about me?  Warning it is pretty much apolitical.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Eat meat ! (4+ / 0-)

    Kidding sort of because I don't eat much meat.

    But I remember my grand parents' farm where zero food went to waste.

    It wasn't because everybody always cleaned their plates.  It was because there was a slop bucket for waste food, which was fed to the pigs.

    And of course at the end of the year the pigs were slaughtered.

    Our problem isn't just that we waste food, but that we are for the most part no longer part of a farming system.

    Just a generation ago, farms were like artificial ecosystems with humans, pigs, dogs, cats, cows, horses, chickens and of course crop plants and soil, living in this cycle of use, re-use, recycling, composting and consumption.

    We had this interesting discussion on DK a few times -- how difficult it is to create a vegan farming system because animals are integral parts of the farm ecology, and well you gotta use the animals eventually.  I suppose if you exclude pigs, you can integrate animals in ways that don't kill them but that use their products like eggs and milk.

    But pigs were the great garbage recyclers of the olden times.

  •  buy a basil plant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl

    I just did that, for about $3, and it will last me for months.  It's great because I use a few leaves, several times a week, in sandwiches, or in stir fries, or in sauces.  And I don't feel obliged to eat lots and lots at once.

    I've noticed that if I take a trip of a week or so, it usually dies, so I make a dish that consumes a lot of basil before the trip - and then buy a new one when I come back.

    www.tapestryofbronze.com

    by chloris creator on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:09:42 AM PDT

  •  Once upon a time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl

    Food production was a simple necessity.  Farmers bartered their over-production for goods and services they did not themselves produce.  Even when a barter economy passed into history their was still great diversity and food production was a means to an end with aside effect of cash income for individuals who did their job well and were lucky.

    Then agribusiness began to get involved.  Hybrid crops, chemical fertilizers and pest control, giant, expensive and specialized machinery.  Sure, production dramatically "improved"--at a cost.  Family-owned farms began to disappear and now farming and its offspring, food production, is a business. A business with stockholders, quarterly reports, sales targets, marketing, and R&D.  

    Of course we are eating more, even though we don't need to, because there are legions of people who are finding ways to make us do it--to increase profits.

    "The bass player is always right"

    by BigOkie on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:37:23 AM PDT

  •  I'm a big girl (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chloris creator, Russgirl, chimene

    with a very healthy appetite but when I travel to the US and eat at your restaurants I can't finish any of the meals. I've never seen such large servings! I'll give you an example.

    I took some American friends to a local truck stop that makes good, hearty food and serves it up in generous portions.  They both commented on how small the serving size was when it arrived. I thought it was more than reasonable.

    Then another time, while in the US, I broke down and ordered a chocolate shake from McD's. I ordered a small and what the handed me was the size of a large up here!!

    But I"ve noticed the trend moving north. Extra large fries and stuff are coming :(

  •  That's not exactly planet-friendly either... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chloris creator, Russgirl, retrograde

    ...in a lot of places in this country.

    2. Use a fruit bowl or platter.

    If you see it, you're much more likely to eat it.  After a while it becomes second nature to reach for a banana or a few grapes.

    Most of the country doesn't have locally-grown bananas, and table grapes might or might not be in season.... which means that for a lot of people, having a banana or table grapes in a bowl represents a lot of carbon going into our atmosphere to get them from wherever they were grown to our grocery stores.

    It's much better for the environment and the human race to fill one's fruit bowl with fruits that are (a) locally-grown, (b) in-season, and (c) cultivated and picked by workers who are getting a fair wage and being treated properly.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:27:23 AM PDT

    •  It's something to consider, but is overestimated (0+ / 0-)

      Most people think the transportation of food is a far bigger component of food's greenhouse gas footprint than it really is.

      For example (sorry link not handy now) one source I read indicated food miles were responsible on average for something like 10-15% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. I get the general impression most people think a food item that has travelled a long distance would have a carbon footprint mostly from its journey, and in most cases they'd be wrong by an order of magnitude.

      Another study I know of compared dairy in a country where it is produced very efficiently (New Zealand, where most electricity is from renewable sources and most cows are outdoors year-round) with one of its export markets, the UK (where most electricity is from fossil fuels and many cows are kept heated indoors in winter) using a fairly detailed comparison of each component. The study estimated an NZ block of butter sold on a UK supermarket shelf to have half the greenhouse gas emissions of a UK block, and only 10% added by shipping to the other side of the world, having in total only 60% the carbon footprint of the local product.

      The type of transport is also important. When a food item is shipped thousands of miles by sea, then driven hundreds of miles by road, it's not uncommon for the journey by road to be responsible for greater greenhouse gas emissions than the journey by sea.

      I think about food miles and buy local wherever possible, but don't worry too much about the occasional banana because I know my choices about type of food - and the sustainability practices of the grower - have a far bigger impact on my carbon footprint than how far it has travelled to reach me.

    •  this is a nice idea (0+ / 0-)
      It's much better for the environment and the human race to fill one's fruit bowl with fruits that are (a) locally-grown, (b) in-season, and (c) cultivated and picked by workers who are getting a fair wage and being treated properly.
      But in most of the "north" there is little locally grown (in season) for 3/4 or more of the year. It is not realistic to say we shouldn't eat produce because it is not grown here. As to your point c), yes, of course it's important to promote ag workers' wages and working conditions.

      Life is short. Love deeply and forgive swiftly. And be kind. It matters.

      by Melanie in IA on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:46:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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