This is the final part of our serialization of Chapter 4 (Energy) from the latest Resilience guide, "Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable & Secure Food Systems". This installment shows the big problem we have with waste, but also suggests that this is an area where we can all wade in.
Like everything else in the food system, food waste isn’t that simple. Unlike everything else in the food system, waste knows no bounds—that is, it cuts across all components of the food system. Food is lost and wasted in every sector, from production to consumption. However, the pervasiveness of food waste also means that it’s one of the biggest opportunities for rebuilding local food systems. Before making that argument, though, it is important to understand the issue of food waste in more detail.
- Maximizing the diversion and appropriate consumption of discarded or unused foods that are still edible, particularly for foodinsecure populations
- Maximizing the energy recapture of food waste through anaerobic digestion
- Minimizing the transport of heavy, water-laden food waste
- Minimizing nutrient loss from the food system by transforming food waste into engineered soils, while also reducing the potential for the leaching of these nutrients into waterways
- Highlighting local eating establishments that can document their efforts to achieve zero waste of food, eating utensils, and carryout containers
27. For an overview of the terms “food loss” and “food waste,” see Jenny Gustavsson et al., Global Food Losses & Food Waste: Extent, Causes, & Prevention (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2011), http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ags/publications/GFL_web.pdf.
28. Ibid., 2.
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29. Ibid., 5.
30. “Basic Information about Food Waste,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed November 26, 2011, http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/organics/food/fd-basic.htm.
31. William Yardley, “Cities Get So Close to Recycling Ideal, They Can Smell It,” New York Times, June 27, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/us/a-recycling-ideal-so-close-cities-can-smell-it.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.
32. “First Municipal Food Waste-to-Renewable Energy Facility to Connect to Power Grid in Urban Setting in U.S.,” press release, August 23, 2012, http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/8/prweb9831566.htm.
33. Stephanie Pruegel, “Pioneering Partnership Optimizes Power Production,” BioCycle, July 2010, 51.
34. Anya Kamanetz, “The Starbucks Cup Dilemma,” Fast Company online, October 20, 2010, http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/150/a-story-of-starbucks-and-the-limits-of-corporate-sustainability.html.
35. 2008 Fast Food Industry Packaging Report (Asheville, N.C.: Dogwood Alliance, n.d.), http://www.nofreerefills.org/download-report/.