Chemistry Council. As for those 42 million food insecure Americans, conserving just one-quarter of the food wasted in this country would keep their pantries stocked year-round, without them spending a dime. But back to Cook’s point about the environment. Wasting food also wastes all the resources that went into producing it: petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, tractor fuel and water. Then factor in the habitat loss, soil erosion and water pollution associated with agriculture, not to mention human labor. On a global scale, if food waste were its own country, it would be the thirdlargest greenhouse gas emitter, reports the United Nation Food
GREEN LIVING | SPRING/SUMMER 2017
Tom Colicchio, chef Bill Telepan and Food Policy Action co-founder Ken Cook take part in a panel at the release of its annual Food Scorecard at Campos Community Garden in New York City in November 2015.
and Agriculture Organization. And because food waste is rarely composted, it decomposes anaerobically in landfills, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Wasted food is also responsible for 25 percent of fresh water use in the country, a tremendous tax on beleaguered lakes, streams and reservoirs. “This is one of the many ways that food intersects with not just social issues, but with environmental issues,” Colicchio says. “We can’t wave a magic wand and all of a sudden have organic farms across the country that will feed everyone; cutting back on food waste is something we can all work toward in the meantime.” Cook offers an even more stinging perspective: “Waste is the greatest environmental insult, because you’ve inflicted damage on Mother Nature and then thrown the product of that damage in your refuse bin. We have to become more aware.” Which is why environmental groups, anti-hunger groups and food system reformers such as FPA have issued a call to fight food waste on all fronts. Entrepreneurs are also stepping up. Imperfect Produce,
PHOTO PROVIDED BY FOOD POLICY ACTION