Thursday, September 17, 2015

U.S. launches food waste initiative

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg unveiled their first-ever national food waste reduction goal Wednesday, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030.

As part of the effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve the nation's natural resources.

The announcement occurs just one week before world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address sustainable development practices, including sustainable production and consumption. 

As the global population continues to grow, so does the need for food waste reduction.

In Ontario, the government finally adopted tax breaks this year after years of prodding from back-bencher Toby Barrett of the Sarnia area. Farmers can now get a charitable donation receipt for half the value of food they contribute to food banks.

"The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste," said Vilsack.

"An average family of four leaves more than two million calories, worth nearly $1500, uneaten each year,” he said.

Food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers and has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change.

Food loss and waste is the single largest component of garbage and accounts for a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the U.S.

Experts have projected that reducing food losses by 15 percent would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions.

"Let's feed people, not landfills. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations" said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.