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Read pages 26, 27, 28 & 29 from the “Wasted” article.
As you’re reading the article, list at least one important fact that you learn for each of these twelve categories:
Amount of Food and Money Wasted in Homes
Types of Food Wasted in Homes
Causes of Consumer Food Waste:3. Confusion Over Date Labels
4. Bulk Buys
5. Poor Storage Habits
6. Large Portion Sizes
7. Not Eating Leftovers
Food Waste in Homes Has Not Always Been Common
Food Waste Is Not As Common in Developing Countries
Transportation Problems that Prevent Donating
Liability Concerns that Prevent Donating
At the top of your notes, type the article’s title and authors.
Identify the page number where you found the fact (which will help you later when you write Essay 2).
Type your notes in Word or Google Docs. These facts will serve as notes that will help you write Essay 2, so be sure to save your notes for future reference.
You will submit these notes as an answer to the first question on the quiz.
Then answer the remaining 12 quiz questions. Use your notes to help you answer the quiz questions.
Article “Wasted: How America is Losing up to 40 Percent of Its Food Supply from Farm to Fork to Landfill” (pages 26, 27, 28 & 29) by Dana Gunders with Jonathan Bloom (and significant contributions from JoAnne Berkenkamp, Darby Hoover, Andrea Spacht, and Marie Mourad)LOSSES AT HOME (page 26)Households are responsible for the largest portion of all food waste. ReFED estimates U.S. household food waste totals 76 billion pounds, or 238 pounds of food per person annually. This costs $450 per person, or $1,800 per year for a household of four. The USDA estimates that 21 percent of the total food supply is lost at the consumer level, amounting to 90 billion pounds. However, the agency’s definition includes both households and “out of home” consumption (e.g., in restaurants), as mentioned earlier. Furthermore, total consumer-level losses may be even higher if we include surplus from home gardens, which one survey estimated at an additional 11.5 billion pounds.Because it has undergone more transport, storage, and often cooking, throwing food away at the consumer level has a larger resource footprint than at any other point of the food chain. A McKinsey Consulting study reports that household losses are responsible for an average of eight times the energy waste of post-harvest losses.Estimates vary as to how much of the food discarded in homes is edible. A study of 100 Seattle residents found that about one-third of food wasted in homes was edible, while two-thirds consisted of inedible scraps (such as banana peels, eggshells, and bones). Of the edible portion, about half was unused produce, one-third was uneaten leftovers, and the rest was uncooked other food.A study of 500 homes in the Vancouver area found that 53 percent of food waste at home was avoidable. NRDC’s own research of household food waste across three cities (613 households in Nashville, Denver, and New York) found that up to 68 percent of discarded food was edible, if “questionably edible” items such as potato peels were included. Perishables make up the majority of household food losses due to the high volume of consumption and the tendency to spoil. In terms of total mass, fresh fruits and vegetables account for the largest household losses, followed closely by meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. By rate of loss, fish and seafood rank highest for consumers, with 31 percent of available pounds going uneaten.Consumers tend not to notice the food they throw out and to underestimate its implications. Several studies have found that approximately three-quarters of people believe they waste less food than the average American. Furthermore, studies find that even residents who keep daily diaries of their food waste underreport the amount of food they waste by about 40 percent, compared with what can be found in their garbage. Cheap, convenient food has promoted behaviors that undervalue fully utilizing purchases. As a result, the issue of wasted food is simply not on the radar of many Americans, even those who consider themselves economically or environmentally conscious.One key driver of waste is confusion over date labels. Date labels on food are generally not regulated and are not meant to indicate food safety. Multiple dates, inconsistent usage, and lack of education around date labels cause consumers to discard food prematurely. In the United States, more than 80 percent of consumers report that they discard food prematurely due to confusion over expiration dates. Meanwhile, U.K. findings indicate that about 20 percent of avoidable wasted food in households is the result of date label confusion. page 26__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________page 27Whether it’s single-household purchases or bulk buys, food sold in package sizes larger than needed can lead to food spoilage. Furthermore, store promotions that encourage bulk purchases or purchases of unnecessary products often lead consumers to buy foods outside their typical meal plan, which then leads to waste.Poor storage habits can also drive waste. When items are hidden behind others in the refrigerator (or, to a lesser extent, in the freezer), waste becomes more likely. Most people like to keep their fridges well stocked, and given the sheer size of modern refrigerators, this can lead to wasted food. As food lingers in the fridge, uncertainty over how long foods keep and lack of knowledge about how to use items doom many food items to landfills.Lack of meal planning and shopping lists, inaccurate serving estimates, and impromptu restaurant meals can lead to spoilage. Furthermore, much like restaurant portions, recipe serving sizes and plates have grown, growing portions along with them, and large portions can lead to uneaten food. In fact, the surface area of the average dinner plate expanded by 36 percent between 1960 and 2007, meaning you need to serve more food to fill it. Simply switching to a smaller plate could cut calories and waste. Serving sizes in the Joy of Cooking cookbook have increased 33.2 percent since 1996. That is, a recipe that was said to serve 10 now “Serves 7” (or the ingredient amounts are greater for the same number of servings). In some cases, this leads to overeating. In others, it simply leads to extra food in the trash.Excess prepared food would not produce as much waste if Americans had a better attitude toward leftovers. While many Americans utilize leftovers in the same form or repurpose them into another meal, many more do not. In a 2015 survey, 53 percent of respondents said that they throw away leftovers at least weekly. And in households with children, that figure jumped to 70 percent.Finally, time constraints and inconvenience can exacerbate the problem. Often, the most convenient option is not the least wasteful option. For instance, ordering in can feel easier than cooking produce on thepage 27__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________page 28brink of spoilage. This dynamic can lead to waste, even with all other best practices.Food expenditures represent only 10 percent of the average American’s disposable personal income—a smaller proportion than in any other country. That’s also half the percentage it was in the 1950s, which means the financial incentive for many of us to be more careful with our food is much smaller. Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom, it has been demonstrated that people do save money by wasting less food, and that they tend to spend about half that money to “trade up” to more premium grocery products.Household waste is not inevitable, nor has it always been common. Older generations, especially those who experienced or had a parent who experienced World War II or the Great Depression, tend to waste less. As mentioned earlier, the average American wastes 50 percent more food today than he or she did in the 1970s. In a 2015 survey, 84 percent of Americans above 65 years old estimated that they waste less food than the average American and exhibited many of the behaviors associated with waste reduction. An analysis of residential garbage in the United Kingdom showed that this age group generated approximately 25 percent less food waste than similar-size but younger households.Consumers in developing countries do not waste nearly as much food as their European or American counterparts. The FAO estimates per capita food waste by European and North American consumers at 210 to 250 pounds per year, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South or Southeast Asia waste a mere 13 to 24 pounds per year per capita. Wasting food is, in many cases, a luxury. However, once we account for all the waste and the environmental and social implications, it’s not necessarily one we can 28 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ FOOD DONATION AND REDISTRIBUTION (page 29)One of the ironies of today’s food system is that enormous amounts of food are wasted at the same time that more than 42 million people in the United States lack a secure supply of food to their tables. In fact, only about 3 to 10 percent of unsaleable food from manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, and food service providers combined is donated each year. At the farm level, only a small portion of the largely undocumented losses of fruits and vegetables makes its way to the hunger relief system. We can do much, much better.Recent growth in donations reflects these opportunities. Donations to the Feeding America network increased by 71 percent from 2011 to 2016, due in part to higher volumes of fresh produce and more donations from the retail sector. Similarly, Food Donation Connection, which focuses on prepared food rescue, has seen a tripling of donations in the past ten years, topping 50 million pounds in 2016. Donations of fresh produce to California’s Farm to Family increased by 64 percent from 2010 to 2016.Barriers remain, however, with transportation topping the list. Indeed, 41 percent of respondents in a survey of manufacturing, retail, and restaurant businesses cite transportation from the donor’s location as the main barrier to donating food. While donors receive tax benefits for their contributions, nonprofit food recovery organizations typically bear the cost and responsibility of transporting donated food to a central warehouse or to charitable organizations that directly serve needy individuals. Many lack adequate transportation capacity, particularly for perishables like meat, dairy, and prepared foods that need to be chilled during transport. Transportation needs are especially acute for donations of prepared food from restaurants and institutional food service, which are typically made in smaller quantities from more disparate locations and require quick turnaround. Acknowledging that adequate food rescue infrastructure benefits both donors and local communities, Walmart donated 180 new refrigerated trucks to hunger relief agencies around the country in 2013.Potential donors have also cited liability concerns as a key barrier to donating food, although this is changing as existing protections become more widely understood. The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, protects donors from food safety liability when donating food to a nonprofit organization. Furthermore, no food donation recipient has ever sued a food donor in the United States. Some companies still cite fear of negative publicity if donated food is linked to illness. However, as more large companies institute national food donation programs, these concerns appear to be diminishing.It should be noted that while food donation provides immediate relief to those without enough to eat, it does not address poverty and the other underlying conditions that drive hunger. In addition, as rates of diabetes, hypertension, and other diet-related diseases rise, some agencies are limiting receipt of foods with little nutritional 29


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