Opinion

Strive to reduce food waste

Wednesday is World Environment Day, an annual event organized by the United Nations Environmental Programme to raise global awareness and call for action on pressing environmental issues.

World Environment Day was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. This year’s theme is “Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your footprint.” The food-inspired theme aims to reduce food waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption.

An estimated 1 billion tons of food is lost or wasted across the globe each year. Think of what a mighty dent all that wasted food could make in world hunger and starvation.

“In a world of 7 billion people, set to grow to 9 billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense — economically, environmentally and ethically,” U.N. Under-secretary General Achim Steiner said in advance of World Environment Day, which is set to be celebrated in Mongolia this year.

Closer to home, South Sound advocates for food security are gearing up to take a bigger bite out of food waste. In 2012, Thurston County Solid Waste and the Thurston County Food Bank teamed up to launch Restaurant Rescue, which saves some 500 pounds of restaurant food each week that is repackaged in food grade containers and distributed to hungry individuals and families in South Sound.

There’s so much more to do to reduce food waste, which is estimated at about 25 percent of the food purchased by typical households in America. Put another way, a average family of four wastes between $1,365 and $2,275 worth of food each year.

Family members can make a difference by serving children smaller portions than adults, and becoming creative with leftover food. Families who take the time to shop smart and plan their meals are less likely to waste food.

Reducing food waste should be a top priority for food growers, distributors and consumers on World Environment Day — and every other day of the year.

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