Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as limited or uncertain access to adequate food at the household level. Based on 2018 figures, an estimated 37 million Americans, including 11 million children, experience food insecurity in the United States. This number is shocking when compared with the food waste that takes place yearly. It is estimated that the United States wastes 30-40% percent of the food supply, which is not only a social and humanitarian concern, but also a far-reaching environmental issue.
Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in landfills, which contribute 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Food decomposing in landfills emits methane. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the United States. When food is wasted, we are not only losing wholesome food that could have helped families in need, we are also wasting energy and resources invested (land, water, labor) at every level of the supply chain: producing, processing, transporting, preparing, and storing.
Dairy cows and other livestock play an important role in reducing food waste from various industries by eating parts of plants that humans cannot digest. Byproducts like nut hulls and citrus pulp would normally be discarded, but cows use it for energy to produce nutritious milk, literally recycling food back into our supermarkets! Another way to prevent food waste is through food banks. Food banks work closely with partner agencies to recover excess food from various organizations, including grocery manufacturers, retailers and producers, helping to save food from landfills and putting it onto the tables of families in need.
We can all do our part in reducing food waste. Be a part of the solution and check out these tips on reducing food waste in the kitchen. Additionally, try our recipes for delicious ways to use the food you may already have in your fridge and pantry.
A collection of stories related to my work as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with The Dairy Alliance.
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