National and Local Efforts to Address Food Waste

Does food waste just eat at you? (pun intended).

You probably have no idea how much food is wasted in America. Estimates range from 40-50%! Thankfully there are a growing number of local and national examples that indicate that this issue is gaining attention and traction:


  • The movie DIVE! Living Off America's Waste about excess food and dumpster diving was screened in Austin last year and is available on DVD or streaming on Netflix.





  • The Food Network aired a piece called "The Big Waste". I think the show is well done and drives home the massage that WAY too much food is thrown away in America (all along the food supply chain) and we are way too picky about produce and other food items. They also cover food safety issues which is useful. Nice to see these top chefs having their eyes opened. Chef Bobby Flay was so moved he said he felt like he should run for city sanitation officer (or something of the like). You could tell he grasped how big the problem is and that he wants to do something.

The Food Network has left up three segments of the show that highlight The Big Retail Food Waste, Salvaging Poultry & Eggs, and Salvaging Meat & Fish. All are great for watching and sharing.

Big Waste Videos

The EPA's website has this:

In Waste Not, Want Not: Feeding the Hungry and Reducing Solid Waste Through Food Recovery (PDF) (59 pp, 1.5MB) both EPA and USDA recommend following the “food recovery hierarchy” below as the preferred options to make the most of excess food. The food waste recovery hierarchy comprises the following activities, with disposal as the last, and least preferred, option:

  • Source Reduction – Reduce the amount of food waste being generated;
  • Feed People – Donate excess food to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters;
  • Feed Animals – Provide food scraps to farmers;
  • Industrial Uses – Provide fats for rendering; oil for fuel; food discards for animal feed production; or anaerobic digestion combined with soil amendment production or composting of the residuals
  • Composting – Recycle food scraps into a nutrient rich soil amendment

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy
Maybe this even signals that Obama might be following up on Bloom's key recommendation that there be a "National Food-Waste Czar." 

Well locally, I've taken it upon myself to help lead the conversation about what we in Central Texas can do to minimize and address food waste.

Tomorrow evening I am hosting a meeting of the Food Surplus & Salvage Working Group. In addition to regrouping and assessing our next steps we are going to prepare some policy recommendations for the Sustainable Food Policy Board to share with the Austin City Council and Travis County Commissioners. If you would like to join us we will be at City Hall Room 2016 between 5:30-6:45 pm (that's Friday May 25th).

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