When I’m not contemplating spots on apples or solving the mystery of unidentified floating objects in gin, I’m at my day job at National Geographic. Recently, I published a piece on NationalGeographic.com about many of the things I’ve learned ever since I got involved with addressing food waste. I’m pasting an excerpt below. Please read on, pass along, and let me know what you think!
Food waste, that scourge that sends more than a third of our food supply to rot and is a major contributor to climate change, seems like it should be easy to address.
Waste less food, advocates cry, and you can save money! You can save time! You can save farmland and fuel, and, since agriculture drives habitat loss, you can even help save the tiger.
And yet, here we are in the thick of Earth Month, on a day designated as “Stop Food Waste Day,” and you probably don’t need to look further than your own kitchen or cafeteria to see edible food dumped. In the U.S. more than 80 percent of food waste has been traced to homes and consumer-facing businesses.
So why is this problem so hard to solve? Because, researchers say, we’re only human. We have some irrational tendencies, some aspirations that don’t match reality, and some major blind spots. Not to mention busy schedules that don’t always align with when the avocado on the counter finally ripens. Here in the U.S., food waste is often invisibly baked into how we shop, cook and entertain.
Researchers and advocates are hopeful, but here’s some of what we’re up against: