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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20 percent of what goes into municipal landfills is food. So, how can we make a change and who should be taking responsibility?
The EPA's Ashley Zanolli, spoke with NPR and said; "Forty to 50 percent of food waste comes from consumers, and 50 to 60 percent from businesses.” So to reduce the amount of food heading to landfills, everyone, from restaurants and supermarkets to us at home will need to take some responsibility. Zanolli has worked on a program called “Food: Too Good to Waste”. A new campaign that will teach consumers how to be more efficient in the kitchen. Its goal is to be rolled out nationwide, but for right now it’s being tested in a handful of cities.
Supermarkets can lead the way here too. Take, for example, Brown’s ShopRite store in West Philadelphia and Drexel University’s Culinary Arts & Food Science Program who, as partners in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, are developing a new way to help the environment and feed hungry people. As common with many places, the produce department at Brown’s ShopRite stores would generally throw away less attractive or bruised vegetables and fruits. Although still nutritious, no one would ever buy them, they end up in landfills where they rapidly decomposed and produced methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Now, Drexel University Food Lab students majoring in culinary arts, culinary science and hospitality management, visit Brown’s ShopRite, collect the still usable fruits and vegetables, and experiment until they have turned the bounty into recipes that are nutritious and easy to prepare. Some of the recipes include fruit cobbler, strawberry jam, dried tomatoes, and stir-fried greens. The students then turn the recipes over to shelters and other food providers.
Relatively simple ideas like this can be an example for other supermarkets. Perhaps selling less than perfect produce for a lower price, or offering tips and recipe ideas for fruits and vegetables that are still good for you, despite not looking perfect. Retailers are in a position to engage with consumers on ways to reduce food waste, and making sure that everyone takes on a lithe responsibility.