Student’s Corner

Food Waste

This week, Facilities Team Green and Dining Team Green collaborated to host a Zero Waste Dinner. This is a dinner in which we track the food waste produced in Douglass Dining Hall for the duration of the dinner hours 5-9pm. There was a lot of waste, much of which could have been avoided! Food scarcity is an issue for many people around the world, along with the growing need to produce more food for the projected global population growth. This means we must start with reducing our food waste to make our food systems more efficient.

About 40% of food is wasted each year in the US. This happens in many different parts of the food system, but the two largest parts are often in agriculture and consumption. In agriculture, food waste happens for many reasons, ranging from weather to overproduction. Farmers often have an unpredictable market and many other unpredictable circumstances such as weather and pests. This forces them to plant more than they predict they will need to ensure that they have enough. A byproduct of this is that much of this then does not get sold on and goes to waste. Another reason is that the product may simply not look good enough to be sold in retail, even though the product is often completely fine.

The other large portion of food waste happens at consumption, a relatively easy area to make an impact and reduce that waste. This happens for many reasons, including overshopping, improper storage, etc. It is important to purchase as much as you are planning to use, use produce, dairy and meats in an appropriate time so that they do not go bad, and keep leftovers to eat at a later time. Avoid wasting as much food as possible.

Lastly, our dining halls are very accommodating and are equipped to attempt to reduce waste. The staff is always trying to find ways to use as much of the products they get and to cut waste as much as possible. So ask to remove something you do not like, or for a smaller or larger portion. Make sure you can eat what you are served and rather go back for seconds.

Our population is growing and the rate of food scarcity may grow with it. We know we have to start producing more to combat this, but we must also drastically reduce our waste. Wasting as much as 40% of food through our food system is simply not efficient and costs people and the environment so much.

Written by Zein Tynon, Class of 2024.

 

Photo Credit:

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Sources:

https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs#:~:text=How%20much%20food%20waste%20is,percent%20of%20the%20food%20supply.

https://foodprint.org/issues/the-problem-of-food-waste/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/climate/food-waste-emissions.html

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