Now you know just how much of a problem food waste is in America, the question is why? Why, even when we talk about being less wasteful, do we still manage to throw away a significant amount of food?
Here, we’ll look at the causes of food waste and why it’s such a problem.
Understanding Where Food Is Wasted
Food waste can occur at any point in the food production process. It isn’t just consumers who are causing the waste; a lot of it is wasted before it even gets to the grocery stores.
So, where can food be wasted? The following is a brief overview of the area’s food waste occurs:
- Agricultural production – This is where food waste starts. Farmers working with both crops and animals for food production can suffer a variety of losses.
- Post-harvest storage and handling – Once food is ready to be transported, it can also be wasted on its way to processing. There may be storage issues which cause waste too.
- Processing and distribution – As food is getting processed and distributed, there are a variety of ways it can lead to waste.
- Consumption – Consumption-related waste is the one we typically think of most. This is the amount of waste caused by the consumer.
As you can see, food waste can occur at every stage. This means, if we want to tackle the problem, we have to look at reducing waste right from the agricultural production stage.
What Are the Causes?
Even if we know where food is wasted, what are the causes? There are quite a lot of causes to be aware of including:
- Farmers overproducing food
- Incorrect storage
- Failing to plan meals in advance
- Buying too much food
- Unsold food
Farmers frequently overproduce, leading to a lot of waste before food has even hit market shelves. The way they handle and store their produce also leads to further waste.
However, it is the consumer who tends to waste the most food. From buying too much, to incorrectly storing it, consumers need to be better educated if they are to reduce the amount of food waste they produce.
Why Is It a Problem?
So, if food naturally decomposes, why is waste such a problem? Well, there is the fuel, fertilizers and pesticides used to grow the food. As a lot of food is wasted, it also means fuel, pesticides and fertilizers are wasted. This can have a significant impact on the environment.
Food waste also leads to more methane production. This is known to be one of the most damaging greenhouse gases. When food ends up in landfill, it produces a lot of methane, contributing to global warming. These are just some of the reasons why it becomes a problem.
Food waste is a major problem in America. There are a lot of causes, with improvements needing to be made right from the production stages. However, consumers can make a huge difference simply by changing their habits.