Organize food recovery programs, educate about food waste and hunger.
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Do you remember sitting at the dinner table as a kid, flicking veggies around your plate with your fork, in hopes that they would just disappear? Then mom looks at you and says "Clean your plate, there are starving children in Africa that would love to eat your broccoli".
Well, she was right. The only difference now is that we have the numbers to back her up.
There are, in fact, about 232.5 million people in Africa who suffer from chronic undernourishment. Across the world, that number rises to 795 million people who don't receive basic needs to fuel their body and brain, 47 million of whom live right here in America.
What's even more astonishing? Of the entire world's food supply, around 40% of it goes uneaten. In 2010, Americans discarded approximately 133 billion pounds of perfectly edible food. That's an estimated $165 billion, and equivalent to 347 billion calories available for consumption uneaten, daily. If we were to reduce food waste by just 15%, that would be enough to feed more than 25 million people every year.
Not only do our wasteful habits directly contribute to the global issue of hunger, but when we throw away wholesome food, we're practically throwing away money. To top it all off, when discarded food decomposes in our landfills, it generates methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful in accelerating global warming than carbon dioxide.
So what is it that we need to do to implement change and begin providing the most basic human need to everyone?
The solutions are endless.
Consumers can purchase cosmetically imperfect produce, because they are just as tasty and nutritious as the attractive ones and will otherwise be thrown out.
Restaurants and grocery stores can donate wholesome, edible food to food banks.
Farmers can re-purpose "ugly" produce into sauces and broths.
Namely, we must place more value on our food and recognize that NO ONE should go without.
The first step is to acknowledge the problem and commit to solving it. Conducting comprehensive studies of food losses; what gets measured, gets managed. Initiate public awareness campaigns, such as the "Love Food Hate Waste" campaign launched in the UK in 2012, which has aided in reducing the country's waste by 18%. Target audiences of these PSAs will include the general population as a whole, with a particular focus on school children and teens, in hopes that they will learn about the negative impacts of waste, modify their habits in the early stages, and recruit family members and friends to join in their efforts. We can reduce a great portion of waste in schools by designating area in which students can bring their unopened or uneaten food, where it can then be recycled or donated. While some schools have already adopted this technique, it is time for it to become a nationwide policy. We also need to advocate for eliminating date label confusion; manufacturers may use language such as "best before", "use by" and many others, most of which do not refer to food safety, thus leading to consumable food being discarded.
With the voice of our senators and representative, and support and cooperation from our schools and neighbors, we can start in Florida and extend nationally and beyond to work in collaboration to feed our people instead of our dumpsters.
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