One of the many (seemingly endless) ways that humans are damaging the atmosphere, land and water is by growing lots of food and then wasting a lot of it, as much as a third in the U.S., by some estimates. This is not only stupid but harmful and a lot of people are trying to figure out ways to improve it.
Here’s one small effort: A food diversion program in schools in Hollis, one of New Hampshire’s wealthiest towns. The food is still wasted, as in not eaten, but at least it goes to compost instead of sitting in a landfill, taking up space and altering the climate. (I’m a little unclear why composed food is said to release fewer greenhouse gases than landfilled food – I guess it’s a function of aerobic vs. non-aerobic.)
The legislature is contemplating a few bills that will try to give incentives to shove less uneaten food into landfills and has some long-term goals. Network Cafe, a program of the UNH Sustainability Alliance, had a webinar about the efforts recently; you can see it here. I have little confidence in state action, however, since Republicans dominate and are loathe to do anything that might possibly reduce short-term profits for any business.
And let’s be honest, this stuff is a real pain to do. I collected the coffee grounds from my local general store for a year and talked to them about setting up a more extensive food-waste-collection system, but the space that it would require (need big separate bins) and concern about health inspections – you don’t want garbage near the food prep area – led them to kill the whole effort.
About the best way to reduce food waste lies with us the consumers. I’m appalled at the thought that we waste 30% of our food, much of it by the end consumers. That’s not the case in our household, we thrive on left overs and seldom discard food. Buying too much of a product is an easy thing to avoid, Restaurants provide “doggie bags”, patrons should make use of them and restaurants need to reduce their portion sizes as well (and their prices). Having been raised by depression era parents, it was unacceptable to waste food.