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Food Waste

Philly Market Rises Up to Meet Hunger Challenge

Did you know that nearly one-third of the food available to U.S. retailers and consumers never makes it to the dining room table?  That’s 133 billion pounds of food going to waste--all of which has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation, and climate change.  Experts have projected that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would provide the equivalent of enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year.

That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), decided to help tackle the problem by sponsoring the Terminal Market Food Waste Challenge.  Produce markets across the U.S. joined the friendly 90-day competition by making sure that usable fruits and vegetables were not thrown away.  While these fresh foods weren’t picture-perfect supermarket quality or simply didn’t sell, they were healthy, wholesome foods that could be made into juices, added to animal feeds, used for compost, or donated to charity.

Nutritional Security Through Sustainable Agriculture

Nutritional security is defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Achieving nutritional security in the context of the burgeoning population, climate change, diminishing land and water resources, environmental degradation, and changing incomes and diets will require not just approaches to sustainably producing more food, but also smarter ways of producing food, dealing with food waste, and promoting improved nutritional outcomes.  The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve these societal challenges. NIFA’s portfolio of support for nutritional security and sustainable agriculture includes literally thousands of impactful efforts across our nation; below are just a handful that speak to the transformative work transforming lives.  For example:

Reduce Food Waste? Challenge Accepted!

Since USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge in 2013, leaders and organizations across the food chain have committed to reducing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste.  Last week, I joined our newest partners in this effort at the Jessup Terminal Market to launch their own friendly competition, the Terminal Market U.S. Food Waste Challenge.

The National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) organized the competition and is leading the charge to reduce food waste at produce terminal markets, which are endpoints within the wholesale supply chain where fruits and vegetables are bought and sold for retail use.  Because they act as hubs for large quantities of perishable foods, these markets provide a big opportunity to prevent food waste and can play a key role in reaching the first U. S. national food waste reduction goal:  a 50 percent reduction in food waste by year 2030.

USDA Innovations to Reduce Food Waste Help the Farmers' Bounty Go Farther

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

We’re all fortunate to live in a country that has one of the most productive and efficient food production systems in the world.  The United States produces over 430 billion pounds of food each year.  However, nearly a third of the food produced by farmers goes uneaten, representing $161.6 billion.  That’s enough food waste to fill 44 Sears Towers every year.  To meet this challenge, USDA scientists are developing innovative programs and using cutting-edge research to reduce food waste on the farm, on supermarket shelves, and in the home.

How Can We Support Affordable, Nutritious Diets? Reduce Wasted Food

Looking for a way to stretch your food dollars?  Would an extra $30 per month for each person in your household help?  That’s about $370 per person per year, or almost $1,500 for a family of four.  That’s the amount of money USDA estimates the average American spends on food that’s not eaten.  It is the equivalent of approximately 2 months’ worth of groceries in a year. 

Reducing food loss and waste is an important part of maximizing household budgets. USDA has initiated a number of projects to help consumers reduce wasted food and improve overall nutrition.  Most recently, USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) launched a new section on ChooseMyPlate.gov to raise awareness about how much edible food is wasted nationwide, along with a range of resources supporting food waste reduction efforts, including a new infographic titled “Let’s Talk Trash.” There are also tips on ways to reduce food waste at home.

No Books Required for Back-to-School Night at USDA Farmers Market on Friday, September 18

It’s “Back-to-School Night” at the USDA Farmers Market on Friday, September 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., in Washington, D.C., near the National Mall.  This month’s educational exhibitors and vendors will appeal to students of any age.  Market visitors can learn more about healthy eating, reducing food waste or take a trip down memory lane and eat a snack or meal off a planet-friendly disposable lunch tray!

Members of USDA’s Team Nutrition will be at the market to explain how to eat healthy in and out of school. Executive Chef Adam Tanner, from the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC, will show you how to cook delicious and nutritious snacks.

Reducing Food Waste is Child's Play

The famous Julia Child once said “people who love to eat are always the best people,” but what would Julia say about eaters who waste food? In the United States, consumers discard about 20 percent of all food purchased. That adds up to approximately 90 billion pounds of food each year, costing each person $370 annually. For a family of four, that’s nearly $1,500.

While it may seem daunting, there are many simple ways to reduce food waste right at home. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your groceries:

G20 Countries Join Together to Reduce Food Waste

This May, agricultural ministers from twenty of the world’s largest economies (G20) gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to issue an Agricultural Communiqué outlining key actions to advance global food security and sustainable food systems. What topped the list of their priorities? Reducing food loss and waste worldwide.

The G20 is not the only international group to recognize the importance of reducing food loss and waste. High-levels of food loss and waste, which are currently estimated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations (FAO) at about 30 percent of the total global food supply, aggravate concerns about our ability to sustainably nourish the world’s growing population while safeguarding the earth’s natural resources.  As a result, reducing food loss and waste has become paramount for the FAO, the U.N. Environmental Program and a long list of international non-governmental organizations and international businesses.

Innovations in Reducing Food Loss and Waste at the Global Sustainability Summit

USDA encourages food waste entrepreneurs to exhibit at the Food Waste Innovation Zone during the Global Sustainability Summit in Denver, Colorado.  Dr. Catherine Woteki, USDA Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics will help kick off the Global Sustainability Summit in Denver, Colorado.  Organized by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Summit runs from August 19-21, 2015. 

The Summit will put the spotlight on food waste innovators, and USDA invites you to come showcase your innovation and meet fellow innovators, food-waste reduction advocates and senior-level executives from the nation’s leading food retailers and manufacturers.  You will also have a chance to compete in the Global Sustainability Summit Food Waste Start-Up Challenge event.

USDA Federal Marketing Orders Help Reduce Food Waste

USDA’s Food Waste Challenge is underway and federal marketing orders for fruits and vegetables continue to help out in the food donation effort. Under these industry self-help programs that are overseen by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), groups decide minimum quality standards that benefit the entire industry. When products do not meet a marketing order’s quality standards but are still edible, they can be diverted to secondary markets to minimize food waste while increasing producer returns.

When this occurs, businesses have a couple of options: send the food to the processed market, donate the food to charities and food banks, or process the food into livestock feed. Nearly half of the active fruit and vegetable marketing orders also include comparable import regulations to ensure foreign products meet the same quality standards as those produced domestically.