Cutting Down On Food Waste

It's time for supermarkets to join in not only working to reduce their own waste, but also offering shoppers tips on how to reduce food waste.

May 31, 2015

It's a discussion that seems to go on forever, with little resolve. Across the pond and a little south one EU country has decided to try an extreme solution. 

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Under a law set to crack down on food waste, it will have to be either donated to charities or for animal feed.

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as in recent years French media have paid strong attention to poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people who often forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached.

As we've discussed before in F3, here in the US, food waste is a huge problem. According to estimates from the USDA's Economic Research Service, 30-40% of the food supply (equating to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food) is wasted each year.

In 2013, the USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, an initiative geared toward businesses and organizations in the U.S. in food. Over 1,000 companies have signed up for the challenge in the last couple of years and committed to recover or recycle food that's been removed from commerce, as well as minimize food waste in school meal programs.

It's time for supermarkets to join in not only working to reduce their own waste, but also offering shoppers tips on how to reduce food waste. Simple ideas like offering slightly bruised, disfigured produce for discounted prices before throwing away, or offering tips for customers on what you can cook with produce that may be not as fresh anymore. And also tips on how customers can shop and meal plan, so they are better organized at home with not as much leftover foods. We may not be at the stage of banning supermarket waste like France, but we can certainly do our bit to help before such a ban is issued.

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