The Impact of Food Waste: Part One
By: Samantha McCarthy MS, RD/LDN
Happy National Nutrition Month! Each March, the nutrition community celebrates healthy eating and nutrition throughout the month. Here at Cedardale we have many fun things going on to celebrate from daily nutrition trivia, nutrition lectures, “Ask the RD” hours, to a month long body fat challenge. 2018’s theme is “Go Further with Food.” The foods we choose to eat for each meal and snack not only have a significant impact on our health, but also on our environments. Over the course of the month, I will be tailoring all my nutrition tips around this theme.
First, I’d like to start off by discussing the impact of our food waste. You may not think much about it. You throw out some old vegetables here and there, maybe some leftovers, or maybe food at a restaurant you don’t take with you. But stop and think, where does all of the food go? Because it is not just you who wastes food, but millions of Americans. And it is not just us. Grocery stores, restaurants, and food manufacturers waste food every day. In short, we waste billions of pounds of food per year as a country, or about 300 pounds of food per individual. That’s a lot of food wasted.
The ramifications of food waste go far beyond just throwing money in the trash. It impacts all levels of the food supply chain, including farmers and business owners. When food goes uneaten, we end up with higher prices on food. Water is wasted to grow that food and landfills grow in size as more food piles up. This can all affect our environment. Lastly, wasted food also means wasted nutrients. We often throw out old produce, seafood, dairy, and meat when it goes bad. Some of the most nutritious foods available. We end up losing out on essentials vitamin, minerals, and quality calories.
Throwing out food not only affects our wallets, but it has a big impact on our environment and also those households who aren’t as fortunate. Start paying attention to how much food you are wasting on a regular basis. How can you cut back? Next week I’ll discuss some strategies on how to decrease your food waste.
*Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month 2018 Presentation. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month-celebration-toolkit