The World Wastes Millions Of Tons Of Food

Brilliance | Dec. 12, 2017

Roughly one third of all food produced goes to waste every year, and the United States alone throws out about half of its produce. That's bad news, and not just because the food waste is enough to solve world hunger. You see, it's not just the food that's wasted—it takes approximately 441 gallons of water to make just one pound of ground beef, and 302 gallons for a pound of tofu. When that food is thrown away, so is the water and all of the other resources that went in to making it. Here are some tips for maximizing your pantry and reducing your food waste.

A Mounting Global Crisis

The greatest tragedy of all is how avoidable all of this waste is. Much of the food that gets thrown out is discarded based solely on aesthetics, or other factors that don't have anything to do with the food's taste or quality. Some businesses have also taken it upon themselves to purchase and sell the foods that farmers and other businesses don't want, but they constantly find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer amount of rejected foods. In fact, there's one ubiquitous food product that wouldn't exist if it weren't for so-called "food waste"—baby carrots are carved from "ugly" full-size carrots that wouldn't sell otherwise. So if we can get over our snobbiness for one piece of produce, maybe we can open our hearts to even more.

How bad is it? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, if we managed to save just one quarter of the food that we waste, it would feed 870 million hungry people. Perhaps unsurprisingly, rich countries throw out nearly as much food as poor countries produce, and the most common foods that are thrown out prematurely or allowed to rot are fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers. That's why it's so important to get the most out of the food you buy, and to make sure you aren't buying more than you and your family can handle.

What You Can Do About It

There are a few easy-to-remember tricks that you can integrate into your life to cut down on your waste, starting with making a regular grocery plan. When you're at the store, don't buy more than your recipes need, and choose the veggies that are on the lumpy or unattractive side. These are the most likely to end up being tossed, and your stomach can't tell the difference. When you're filling the fridge, pull the older food towards the front and pack the new food in the back. This will make it more likely that you'll get to the older food before it goes bad. Also, keep track of what food you throw out, and remember it next time you're at the store. Finally, plan a "use it up" meal in your weekly menu—one dinner that can absorb the leftover ingredients from every other recipe. By following these and other earth-friendly tips, we all can help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.

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