The numbers are staggering – 133 billion pounds of food wasted in the U.S in 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available). That’s 40% of all food produced in the country at a cost of $161 billion annually. Food loss occurs all along the supply chain including production, storage, transportation and retail. But consumers play a major part as well, leaving 290 lbs. per person uneaten on an annual basis. Food waste has social, economic, environmental and resource implications, especially in light of an ever-growing world population, and has become an issue receiving global attention.
Here in Boulder, the City partnered with Boulder Food Rescue to conduct an audit intended to identify sources of waste and make recommendations for waste reduction strategies (for a copy of the Audit visit: boulderfoodrescue.org). One of their key recommendations includes consumer food waste education, a strategy which the EPA is employing as well. The EPA website features a toolkit designed to assist individuals and households to implement strategies to reduce food waste at home. Their purpose statement is eloquent:
“By making small shifts in how we shop, store and prepare food, we can toss less, eat well, simplify our lives, save money and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste.”
Using your compost bin is important in avoiding the methane generated when organic material is landfilled. But if you’re ready to reduce your footprint further and take action to reduce the food waste going into your bin, a good place to start is to take the EPA’s GET SMART challenge, a worksheet tool to measure your household food waste. Or simply check out the EPA’s FOOD: TO GOOD TO WASTE initiative for tips on shopping, storing, preparing food and managing your pantry.
Sources: USDA Economic Research Service, February 2014 Bulletin, City of Boulder: Food Waste Audit, US Environmental Protection Agency,