National Geographic recently featured an article about Tristam Stuart–a man out of the U.K. committed to reducing food waste across Europe and America. Stuart started his campaign against food waste unknowingly when he was only 15. He wanted to raise pigs for a little extra money, and to keep food costs low, he fed them with perfectly consumable food waste and left-overs from local shops and his school kitchen. He realized that the sheer volume of food waste was contributing to massive environmental problems.
Flash-foward 22 years, now Stewart spends his days in a grass roots campaign to reduce food waste in Britain, convince grocery stores to reduce their aesthetic requirements on food, and raise awareness about the environmental impact food waste causes. In the article, he is quoted, “Producing this huge surplus leads to deforestation, depleted water supplies, massive fossil fuel consumption, and biodiversity loss,” Stuart says. “Excess food decomposing in landfills accounts for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by wealthy nations.” If that’s not enough, he mentions that each day, thousands of pounds of food are “wasted” in production methods in countries where people aren’t getting enough food–all so we can get perfect looking green beans.
One of the coolest reductions in food waste that Stuart advocates is called the Pig Project. He is working to have the laws changed that restrict what we can feed pigs–namely, leftover food scraps and otherwise wasted food. He notes that America alone ships in “millions of tons of soy from South America to feed pigs,” when we should be feeding them the stale bread, etc. that would otherwise be destined for the landfills..
I am all for any efforts that help us to use our resources more effectively. In this day and age, we shouldn’t have malnourished people–or people unable to afford healthy whole foods. Our landfills shouldn’t be littered with food scraps at all. There are TONS of perfectly viable solutions to making sure we get the most out of each morsel, whether we donate to food kitchens, get over our love of the perfect “looking” foods, feed left-overs to live stock…or even on a last ditch effort, compost the leftovers into usable goodness to grow more.
I think the best place to start is our own kitchens. What do YOU do to reduce food waste? What areas could you improve on?