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Tuesday October 16, 2018

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How Much Food Do You Waste

Food waste is a glaring measure of inequality. In poor countries, most of the food waste is on the farm or on its way to market. In South Asia, for instance, half of all the cauliflower that’s grown is lost because there’s not enough refrigeration. Some people composted their food garbage. Composting is a way of turning rotting food into fertilizer for soil.  But more than half of the food waste ended up in the regular trash and was sent to a dump or landfill. When food rots in landfills, it produces methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.

If all the food that’s thrown away in three American cities could be saved, it would provide 68 million meals for people who don’t have enough to eat, according to a recent study. Fruits and vegetables were the most common edible foods found in the trash, followed by food leftover from meals. Eggs, bread and milk were also commonly thrown out.

Keep in mind, we're not talking about the strawberries that have been sitting in your crisper so long they've got grey fuzz on them, or those tomatoes with the gross green splotches that stink. The report is talking about edible food that simply gets chucked. Partly because we load our plates with giant portions we can never finish, partly because we throw out food based on best-before labels, even if we're not reading them properly or the food is still good. But mostly we toss food because, unlike so many other places on earth, food is cheap to us.

In Canada, about $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year. That works out to about $31 per week, or $1,600 per year, that each household spends on food that is wasted. About 45% of Canadians compost their food waste, but not all communities have composting programs, so the rest ends up in landfills.

Some countries are trying to regulate food waste. France requires retailers to donate food that is at risk of being thrown out but is still safe to eat. European Union lawmakers are pushing for binding targets to curb food waste by 50 percent by 2030, echoing a United Nations development goal, negotiations have been underway since June.Some countries pushing back on the idea of continent wide targets.

  

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