Environmental and social impacts of food waste are staggering – BriarPatch

February 27, 2020 – The amount of food that goes to waste may surprise you.

Imagine walking out of BriarPatch Food Co-op with five bags of groceries and then tossing two in the trash on your way to the car. Collectively, this is what Americans do. Forty percent of all the food we produce goes uneaten. More food is wasted at home by eaters than in restaurants and grocery stores combined.

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The environmental and social impacts of food waste are staggering.

Annually, Americans send 52 million tons of food to the landfill taking up 21 percent of landfill space, more than any other single item. Food doesn’t just take up space in landfills–when contained in an anaerobic environment it produces methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. (I have seen this number reported anywhere from 21-30 times the warming potential. The E.P.A. cites 25.)

Consider all the natural resources embodied in food. When we waste food, we are wasting the resources used to grow, package, ship and store it. ReFED estimates that food waste consumes 21 percent of our fresh water, 19 percent of fertilizer and 18 percent of cropland.

Americans spend 218 billion dollars on food that goes to waste while one in seven experience food insecurity. Locally, there are over 20,000 food insecure people served annually by food pantries like The Food Bank of Nevada County and Interfaith Food Ministries.

In lieu of the bleak picture I’ve painted, food waste is a problem with a delicious solution. That’s why BriarPatch is dedicating 2020 to exploring the topic of Food Waste. We’re working internally to reduce food waste at the store and offering resources for community members to reduce food waste at home. Confronting waste by tracking it is a great starting point. We’ve developed a Food Waste Tracker you can download online or pick up at BriarPatch.

Documenting with photos is also a great way to inventory what food you waste most.

Join us as we share tips on preventing, recovering and recycling food waste with monthly topics like meal planning, proper storage, composting, gleaning and donating food. There are a number of great resources available on our Food Too Good to Waste page and events like the ones below to help you along your food waste journey.

Today, February 27, BriarPatch is screening the film, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste at Sierra Cinemas.

Next month, our event,Tackling Food Waste with a Plan, will be held at 7 p.m. on March 12 at Nevada County Media. Learn how to use meal planning to reduce food waste with Nutrition Educator Wendy Van Wagner. BriarPatch merchandiser Carly Davenport will demonstrate how to shop bulk to reduce both food and packaging waste. See you there!

Learn more: https://www.briarpatch.coop/

Written by Lauren Scott, Sustainability Coordinator at BriarPatch Food Co-op