A new report from the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, Re-Fed, NRDC, and the World Wildlife Fund details opportunities to address food waste in the next Farm Bill, a major bill package that Congress revisits every five years.
Experts estimate that about one-third of all food produced ends up being wasted. That means all the resources that went into producing it get wasted too, and it means the environmental impacts of that resource use (polluted waterways from fertilizer use, pollinator die-offs from pesticide use, fresh water stores being used up, and greenhouse gas emissions to transport the food) were completely unnecessary. To make matters worse, when wasted food ends up in landfills, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Further, despite having more than enough food to go around, people still starve amidst abundance because we don’t have the systems in place to distribute all that abundance.
This report proposes policies proposed that would tackle the causes of food waste, help prevent it, and ensure that surplus food is distributed appropriately, including:
1. Standardizing and clarifying date labels on packaged food to prevent food waste (check out our tip guide to help you navigate the confusing current system),
2. Launching food waste educational campaigns through a variety of channels,
3. Expanding incentives and protections for food donation to help surplus food reach those who need it & more!
PIRG will work with the report authors and other like-minded organizations and decision makers to tackle food waste in the Farm Bill. In the meantime, to help address food waste that happens after consumers purchase it, check out our tip guide for reducing your food waste at home!