America’s Food Waste Problem

Americans waste over 130 billion pounds of
food every year. Most of that food ends up in landfills, where
it decomposes, producing greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, 1 in 8 Americans struggle with hunger. Basically Americans don’t consume 30-40 percent of
food produced, thanks in part to a lot of confusion about sell by labels and an obsession
with perfect produce. According to the Department of Agriculture,
food is the single largest component of municipal landfills in the United States. The cost of all that organic waste — from
growing it to disposing of it — is roughly So, some states have come up with a variety
of ways to tackle the problem. Eight states offer incentives to producers
and retailers that donate to food banks, hoping that useable waste can help combat food insecurity. Some create an addition tax credit on top
of an already existing federal credit, so smaller operations that can’t afford to
make regular donations will now get more money to do just that. Others create protections so donors don’t
have to worry about lawsuits over food gone bad. Two more states — Maryland and Virginia — have
similar bills up for debate, Then, there are the 5 states that are focusing
on emissions, restricting the amount of food that producers can dump in the landfill. Maryland, New Jersey, and New York are considering
similar proposals. But these restrictions aren’t all encompassing. Four out of the 5 states restrict the amount
of organic waste from the largest producers only and three states exempt producers that
are too far from recycling or composting facilities. Finally, there’s California, Oregon, and
Colorado, who are using food waste to create biofuel. That biofuel is then used to power — say,
city vehicles in San Diego. Clearly, these policies could reduce our reliance
on oil, and, as technology advances, the conversion
process becomes faster and faster, making it And while states try to hammer out some kinks,
businesses have stepped in the mix. Grocery manufacturers and retailers are working
together to adopt standardized date labels on packages. And some companies are claiming the role of
middleman — collecting imperfect produce from farms and restaurants and selling it
to consumers at a discount. There are several apps for that. There are also apps to help donate to food pantries, and others that even let you donate a meal when you enjoy one yourself. For years, large farms and retailers have
been at odds with environmental groups fighting over policies like bans on plastic bags and regulation over fertilizer use. But reducing food inefficiency? That’s something everyone can get behind.

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