Sodexo Steps Up

Today I’m cross-posting on Sodexo’s A Better Tomorrow blog. The food service provider is taking a stand against food waste with their Stop Wasting Food campaign (

If you can, pass along the word about this campaign, via Twitter, Facebook or your social media venue of choice. It’d be really exciting to see it gain traction. And with that, here’s the guest post I added to the cause:

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I’ll admit it—I waste food. To my continual dismay, it happens. And if yours truly, a food waste fanatic with a forthcoming book on the subject, has food go bad in his fridge, imagine what happens nationwide — Or in your own home.

Looking at the entire food chain, a 2009 study found that 40 percent of all the food produced in America isn’t eaten. And that might be an underestimate.

‘So what?’ I can almost hear the questions pinging through your head. ‘What’s the big deal? Why should I care?’ Well, here are four reasons why food waste matters:

  • Environment. Food sent to the landfill doesn’t harmlessly biodegrade. When it rots anaerobically (without air), organics emit the greenhouse gas methane. Bad news: methane has 23 times the heat-trapping power of CO2. Worse News: We keep sending more and more food to the landfill, as our rate of waste and population increase.
  • Ethics. More than 10 percent of Americans don’t get enough to eat. In light of that tragedy, there’s something unacceptable about taking way more than you’ll eat and then throwing out half of it. No religion or secular worldview that I’ve encountered condones wasting food.
  • Economics. The roughly 160 billion pounds of food America wastes represents a loss of $160 billion. And in today’s economy, there are plenty of schools, homeless shelters and food banks that are desperate for funding. Even on college campuses, the money saved from reduced waste can be used to purchase more organic and local food or to ensure board prices don’t rise.
  • Energy. The energy embedded in the food that we squander represents about 2 percent of total American energy consumption. That comes primarily from the fossil fuels used to plant, fertilize, harvest, and ship our foods. The processing and cooling of food, including household refrigerators, are major energy users, too.

We’re never going to eliminate food waste. But we can certainly create a whole lot less of it. For the above reasons, it’s worth trying.

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