What are the causes of food waste?
The three biggest sources of food waste in America are production and supply, our tendency to over-purchase, and the unrealistic aesthetic standards we've come to expect from our fruits and vegetables. These factors have resulted in an estimated $161 billion in food waste each year, with the average American family of four throwing out $1,500 in food each year. The United States currently leads the world in food waste generation, with the majority of discarded food ending up in landfills. Food waste is the most common substance in landfills in the United States, accounting for 24.1 percent of all municipal solid waste, according to the EPA.
Causes of Food Waste Before It's Consumed And Reaches Your Plate
Causes of food waste in the US before it reaches your plate
Food waste occurs at every stage of the production process, from the farm to merchant distribution and, finally, to the customer. Mold, vermin, and insufficient climate control are among the causes, as are cooking losses and intentional food waste.
Here are a few causes of food waste in the United States-
1. Production and Supply Chain
Food waste occurs at every stage of the supply chain, with different types of foods having a higher or lower likelihood of being lost at each stage.
According to data collected by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 20 percent of fruit and vegetables are lost during production, 12 percent are lost during distribution and retail, and another 28 percent are lost at the consumer level. Seafood suffers a similar fate, with 11% lost during production, 5% lost during processing and packaging, 9.5 percent lost through distribution and retail, and a final 33% lost at the consumer level.
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2. Unrealistic Aesthetic Standards
In the United States, unrealistic aesthetic expectations for our vegetables contribute to food waste. Consumers do not buy deformed food, as grocery stores have learned over time. As a result, many retailers will no longer accept them from their vendors. This is a problem area, but there are places where these unrealistic aesthetic expectations are not held - restaurants. They don't mind how their carrots look as long as they can turn them into delicious dishes on the plate, so there is still hope for deformed vegetables.
3. Portion Sizes and Over Purchasing
Increased serving sizes in schools, restaurants, and the home lead to overpurchasing, though this is not the most dramatic cause of food waste. As a result, more food is wasted away due to spoilage.
Restaurants want to ensure that they have enough food to offer their clients, so they buy too much and discard the leftovers. However, as a consumer, you have the power to ensure that you only buy what you need, that you serve portion sizes that are appropriate for you and your family, and that you don't throw food away too soon.
Causes and effects of food waste
Food waste has an impact on society as well as the environment. Non-consumed food contributes 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. All of the resources used to produce food are wasted when it is lost or thrown away, including water, land, energy, labor, and money. In addition, dumping food waste and trash in landfills emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.
Here are some additional consequences of food waste-
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1. Biodiversity loss
Food Waste has a global influence on biodiversity loss. Farmers have progressively entered wild areas in quest of more fertile grounds to maximize agricultural yields, resulting in biodiversity loss. Slash and burn, deforestation, and the conversion of wild regions into farmlands have all damaged natural habitats for birds, fish, animals, and amphibians.
Mono-cropping and other agricultural practices have exacerbated biodiversity loss. The mass breeding of cattle forhuman consumption, as well as the use of pesticides in crop production, have contributed greatly to nitrogen, phosphorus, and chemical pollution in streams, rivers, and coastal waterways, impacting marine life.
2. Wastage of fertile land
According to studies, food that is produced but not consumed covers around 1.4 billion hectares of land, accounting for over a third of all agricultural land on the planet. Looking at it from a more analytical perspective, the world is squandering 30% of the globe's fertile land that could be put to better use, such as environmental research.
3. Blue water footprint
Water is used in enormous amounts in agricultural food production. As a result, if 30% of all food produced is thrown away, it follows that more than 30% of freshwater utilized in food production and processing is likewise thrown away. This contributes to the blue water footprint, which is the amount of surface and groundwater resources consumed but not used.
4. Increased carbon footprint
The amount of food produced and subsequently thrown out is projected to be 3.3 billion tones of greenhouse gas emissions, hastening climate change's effects. According to research, Food Waste is the third-largest source of greenhouse emissions.
This is due to the waste of energy and the predominant use of fossil fuels in food production, including processing and cooking, as well as transportation to various consumer markets throughout the world. Furthermore, the methane gas produced by food thrown away like garbage in landfills exacerbates climate change and global warming.
5. Economic consequences
Food waste has immediate economic implications in addition to the environmental consequences. The economic costs connected with food waste are estimated to be around $750 billion dollars per year, according to the FAO research.
How can you help reduce causes of food waste?
Reduced food loss and waste are critical in a world where millions of people go hungry every day. When we eliminate waste, we recognize that food is not a given for the millions of people who go hungry every day.
Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce food waste according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States -
1. Adopt a healthier, more sustainable diet
It might be difficult to prepare nutritious meals in today's fast-paced world, but healthy meals don't have to be complicated. There are many simple and healthy recipes on the internet that you can share with your family and friends.
2. Buy what you need
Create a meal plan. Make a shopping list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases. This way you will waste less food and save money.
3. Store food wisely
Older products should be in the front of the cupboard or refrigerator, while newer products should go in the rear. To keep open food fresh in the fridge, use airtight containers and close packets to prevent insects from getting in.
4. Understand food labelling
The terms "best before" and "use-by" are not interchangeable. Food can sometimes be consumed after the "best before" date, but the "use-by" date indicates when it is no longer safe to consume. Look for dangerous substances like trans fats and preservatives on food labels, and avoid items with added sugar or salt.
5. Start small
At home, eat smaller portions, and at restaurants, split enormous plates.
6. Go beyond the aesthetic standards
Food shouldn't be judged just on its appearance! Fruits and vegetables that are oddly shaped or bruised are frequently discarded because they do not fulfill arbitrary beauty standards. Don't worry, they both taste the same! Smoothies, drinks, and desserts can all benefit from the addition of mature fruit.
7. Use leftovers
If you don't eat everything you cook, you can freeze it or use it as an ingredient in another dish.
8. Put food waste to use
Compost your food scraps instead of throwing them away. This way, you're returning nutrients to the earth while also lowering your carbon impact.
9. Support local food producers
By purchasing locally grown produce, you are helping to support local family farmers and small businesses. You also help to reduce pollution by shortening truck and other vehicle delivery distances.
10. Share food
Donate food that would have gone to waste otherwise. Apps, for example, can connect neighbors and local businesses so that leftover food is shared rather than wasted away.
How is causes of food waste defined in the context of the US reduction
Food loss is defined by the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) as the edible amount of food available for human consumption after harvest but not consumed for some reason. Cooking loss and natural shrinkage (for example, moisture loss); mold, vermin, or insufficient climate management; and food waste are also examples. USDA is adopting the standard of referring to declines in edible food mass wherever along the food chain as "food loss and waste" for the reduction target. The term "waste" is used loosely in some recycling statistics and operations to include non-edible (by humans) food pieces such as banana peels, bones, and eggshells.
Inventory management software the best way of eliminating food waste
It's impossible to keep track of what you've preserved where and in what shape, let alone the expiration dates of the food you've preserved. As a result, automation is the ideal option for Food waste management.
Zip Inventory is a terrific inventory management program that can save both food and money.
The following are some of the other Zip Inventory features-
- It can establish variable count frequencies.
- View the total amount of menu items that have been sold.
- Errors should be corrected before they become an issue.
- Identify ways to reduce food waste.
- Keep your team informed about new recipes.
- Allows you to look at inventories anytime.