By Sister Karen Donahue
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 1.3 billion tons (2,600,000,000,000 pounds) of food are lost or wasted every year. At the same time, almost two billion people are malnourished or go hungry. The food sector accounts for about 22% of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly because of the conversion of forests to farm land. While we may think of food waste and loss just in terms of the food itself, large amounts of energy (for fertilizer production and transportation) and water are also wasted.
Food loss and food waste are often used interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing. Food loss refers to food lost in the earlier stages of production including harvest, storage and transportation. Food waste, on the other hand, refers to foods that are edible but are thrown out by supermarkets or consumers.
While reducing food loss is a systemic issue, reducing food waste is up to each of us. Commit to adopting at least one of these 15 steps for reducing food waste suggested by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.