Twitter chat: Why does so much of the food we produce get wasted?

A shopper looks through the produce section in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago, September 21, 2011. The 27,000 square foot (2508 square meters) store is the first in Illinois with an emphasis on groceries and basic household goods. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

A shopper looks through the produce section in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago, in 2011. An estimated 40 percent of food goes wasted in the U.S. every year. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

Each year, roughly 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten. This waste takes a huge toll on the environment: not only does a huge amount of our water, energy and land go into growing food, but much of the produce that is trashed never makes it into a compost heap; instead, it rots in a landfill, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

One place food waste occurs is actually on the farm. One report estimated that up to 30 percent of farmers’ crops never make it to the market. This waste happens for a variety of reasons. Fluctuating prices may make that it is cheaper just to discard a particular crop, rather than paying for transport costs. Additionally, a lot of produce gets tossed for not looking “pretty” enough to sell.

Although the situation is bleak, a few ideas have been proposed to try to mitigate the problem. In other countries, grocery stores selling “ugly” food have done well, and recently, entrepreneurs have been thinking of trying them out in the United States. Other organizations work to connect farmers to food banks, so that food that would otherwise be wasted goes to the hungry, not the landfills.

How does all this food waste occur? What are some of the challenges facing those who would like to reduce food waste? What can ordinary Americans do to help with this problem? What policy changes would help to address the issue? We address these questions and more on twitter. Ben Simon (@Imperfectfruit) Founder and Executive Director of the Food Recovery Network, will be joining us to share his thoughts and insight. Also joining us from the EPA (@EPAland) will be Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response; and Cheryl Coleman, Acting Director, Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division

The post Twitter chat: Why does so much of the food we produce get wasted? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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