Friday, October 19, 2018

What happens to 40% of the food in America?

WHOOPS! Did you leave almost half your groceries in the parking lot?
Imagine this: You go to the grocery store and buy five bags of groceries. On your way out, you drop two bags on the ground...and keep walking. That’s what Americans essentially do every day--waste up to 40% of the food they buy. At the same time, one in seven Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.

The REAL Cost of Food Waste
There are significant consequences to that waste, financially and environmentally. According to the book American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), the average American family spends approximately $2,220 per year on food that is never eaten.  According to the UN, if food waste were a country, it would be the third highest global greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the U.S.
Though critically important, composting these materials to keep them out of the landfill isn’t enough of a solution to food waste. The food itself is only the tip of the iceberg of what actually gets wasted. The embodied energy, water, and other resources used to grow that food and get it from the farm to the consumer have significant environmental impacts, so composting should be the last resort after preventing the food waste in the first place. Some facts about the wasted resources of food waste:
Anywhere food is grown, sold, or eaten, food is wasted. See where food loss occurs at
Food loss and waste is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse emissions. Find out more from the World Bank.
How much water was used in growing food that is wasted?
See this
infographic from the Smithsonian.
Take a Bite out of Food Waste
Most food waste in the U.S. is generated in the home or by restaurants. That means making changes in our personal lives can make a significant difference. Here’s what each of us can do:
  • Plan out meals for the week, make a list and stick to it.
  • Buy the “ugly” produce (bruised fruit, knobby carrots, funny-looking potatoes).
  • Ask if the store offers still good, but on-its-way-out, produce at a discount.
  • At the Farmers’ Market, ask for “seconds.” This less-than-perfect produce is often sold at a discount.
  • Buy local, in-season produce or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to reduce the amount of food lost to long-distance travel conditions.
Storing and Cooking
  • Easily track and manage the food in your home with the No Waste app, which helps you organize food by expiration dates, see your food inventory,  and track your food waste by marking your food as eaten or expired.
  • Make an “Eat Me First” bin or use a dry erase board to note what needs to be eaten soon.
  • Use clear containers to store leftovers and/or label and date the contents.
  • Plan to have a leftovers night each week. Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers and wilted vegetables.
  • Make soup stocks from veggie scraps and bones (And then compost them!)
  • Almost any food can be frozen if you’re running out of time to eat it. Read these tips from NRDC’s campaign to make your freezer into a warrior against food waste.
Dining Out
  • Don’t let food go to waste when you are out-and-about and can’t finish your dinner. Bring your own to-go container for leftovers.
  • Too many zucchini? Share the bounty from your garden with neighbors, friends, coworkers, or a food bank.
  • Recruit a team of volunteers from Denver’s Foraged Feast to pick your apples or other edible fruit before it falls.
Get involved!
  • Denver Food Rescue picks up soon-to-expire produce from local grocery stores and delivers it to food pantries and day shelters. Volunteers often pick up and shuttle produce by bike!
  • Among other food distribution efforts including a mobile pantry, Food Bank of the Rockies picks up surplus food from restaurants, caterers, and grocers and transports it to hunger relief programs.
  • We Don’t Waste rescues food from donor partners and has a team of volunteers saving leftover food from Denver Broncos games.
First Reduce, Then Compost
After doing what you can to reduce food waste, remember to compost! It’s estimated over 50% of a household’s waste in Denver are organics that, when sent to landfills, produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting, we reduce landfill waste and methane generation—and help advance a promising climate solution: carbon farming.
In carbon farming, regenerative land practices, including the application of compost, help infuse soils with microbes that not only promotes plant growth, but also increases soils’ ability to absorb the carbon from the atmosphere, a process called carbon sequestration.
On September 23rd, Eco-Cycle brought together a community working collaboratively to realize the vision of carbon farming as a promising climate solution in Colorado at our Carbon Farm-to-Table dinner and tour (view photos of the event here). We're working with local governments, academia, farmers, businesses, fellow nonprofits and others to advance composting and carbon farming throughout the state. Carbon farming is currently in its pilot stage in Colorado, but Eco-Cycle and many other entities are working together to make carbon farming measurable, replicable, and scalable in Colorado and throughout the Rocky Mountain West. 
Learn more about Eco-Cycle's Urban to Range: Compost Climate Solutions Program, and consider donating to help advance carbon farming across Colorado! 
Volunteer to be a Recycle Pirate at the Broadway Halloween Parade!
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Broadway Halloween Parade, 5th and Broadway
Bring the whole family dressed up in your best pirate costumes and join us as we walk with the Overland Park Neighborhood Association pirate ship float. Volunteer with Eco-Cycle and help spread the message to recycle and compost instead of burying valuable resources in the landfill by handing out City of Denver Zero Waste brochures with an announcement on our free year of composting contest. Bring props like recyclable cans and jars! 
Coffee Talk

Date: Thursday, October 25, 2018
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Coffee at the Point, 710 E. 26th Ave, Denver, CO 80205
Help Denver reach its 2020 Sustainability Goal of increasing its recycling and composting rate to 34% or greater! We will discuss how to get City Council to adopt changes that incentivize recycling and composting. Bring yourself and a friend! Coffee at the Point has a parking garage off of N. Washington St. and serves food, coffee and beer and wine. Email to RSVP.
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