Hey, eaters. President Obama, channeling your mother, has had it with you not finishing your dinner.
The administration, along with the USDA and the EPA, announced goals for a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030. This comes a week before the U.N. General Assembly is to meet in New York to address sustainable food and development practices around the globe. From a USDA press release:
“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “An average family of four leaves more than two million calories, worth nearly $1500, uneaten each year. Our new reduction goal demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in in getting wholesome food to people who need it, protecting our natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.”
How significant is this? Well, personally, we’re a little skeptical about “America’s leadership” when America is the world’s second largest polluter, but the NRDC’s Dana Gunders is more impressed. She writes:
This is huge. Currently, about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply goes uneaten. This not only means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $162 billion each year, but also about 25 percent of U.S. water supply and producing 33 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gases, all for food that never gets eaten. Food is the single largest contributor to landfills today. At the same time, one in six Americans is food insecure, meaning they do not have a steady supply of food to their tables. Allowing the waste and hunger trends to coexist has been nonsensical, to say the least.
To achieve these reductions, the government will have to work with the private sector — food service companies, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. — as well as regular old eaters. Individuals, Gunders writes, are responsible for half of all wasted food in the U.S. Half! So even if you’re not the CEO of Aramark or McDonald’s, you still need to do your part to help the nation reach this goal.
Clean your plates, eaters! Or at least give the leftovers to the dog.