Too much food, too much food trash

Over the years, food has become very fancy. From the simple diets of boiled vegetables or simply cooked meat, food is now available frozen, packed and/or highly processed. With the ease and affordability  of ready to eat meals, food can sometimes be taken for granted, especially in the developed nations and among the upper classes in developing nations.

USDA research shows that food supply in 2000 provided 3800 calories per person in the U.S.

However, 1100 calories out of those 3800 total calories were wasted to rotting, trashed from home or other losses. This food is sent to landfills mostly and now increasingly being composted.

A recent Bloomberg report stated that $160 Billion in wasted in food trash annually. Department of Agriculture launched a Food Waste Challenge with the Environmental Protection Agency to limit food waste. However, the success of that campaign is yet to be determined. 51 percent of Americans still believe that it is difficult to reduce food trash.

If food is thrown in dumpster, and then taken to landfills, there shouldn’t be much problem. It is biodegradable and should be able to break down and permeate the soil. Unfortunately that is not how the food trash works. When food trash is dumped in a landfill, it is in it without sun or air, and thus most likely to release methane. Landfills are the second biggest producers of methane and food is the second biggest component in a landfill, according to this news article.

This brings us to many concerns. The first is to reduce food waste on supply side. But within the consumer household, it is important to plan the food menu to reduce trash. Composting of food scraps is gaining momentum. However, people need more information and facilitation in this regard. City of Columbia, Missouri has started offering many composting opportunities. More on that next week.