The Economic Research Service estimates that in 2010, America wasted approximately 133 billion pounds of food. That’s the equivalent of every American discarding three average-sized apples every day. Not the “apple a day” advice we’re used to hearing. Today, on Stop Food Waste Day, we’re sharing five examples of how USDA is using scientific ingenuity to curb food loss and waste.
- Preserving Produce
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists developed a clamshell container for fresh-fruit storage that maintains superior freshness, including preventing the softening and shriveling of strawberries, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes.
- Applying Automation
Automated sorting separates low-quality fruit from fresh-market, higher-quality fruit. ARS researchers designed and constructed an in-orchard apple sorting system that is compact, reliable, and capable of sorting 11 or more apples per second.
- Upcycling “Unwanted” Fruit
Many manufacturers and consumers overlook produce that is undersized or blemished. Using food scraps, ARS scientists created the world’s first 100% fruit bar by forming dried fruit into a bar.
- Strengthening Safe Foods
Reducing pathogen spread helps minimize food loss and waste. In fiscal year 2020, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invested a total of $40 million in food safety research such as developing new methods to ensure food processing systems can effectively control salmonella.
- Championing Consumers
NIFA-invested researchers are examining how consumer behavior affects food waste. Community-based nutrition education programs, like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, help individuals, families, and communities determine how to use their resources to purchase and prepare healthy food while minimizing waste.