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Cutting the Waste

“There are people starving in Africa. Clean your plate?” Perhaps you heard something like that from your parents when you were growing up. And maybe you sarcastically asked whether you could send those peas that you hated so much to the hungry children on another continent.

The point of that parental lecture was the importance of not wasting food. And as global food production becomes an increasing challenge in the years ahead, it will underscore the importance of reducing waste.

Farmers, of course, have multiple reasons for limited waste. They don’t want to take that food out of supply to feed people around the world. They also don’t want to waste money by losing food before they get a chance to sell it.

U.S. Farmers in Action identified five obstacles for farmers to overcome when minimizing food waste.

1.      Overproduction to manage risk

2.      Impact of weather

3.      Food safety rules

4.      Dealing with damaged and disfigured foods

5.      Managing a lack of labor

More than one-third of the food in the United States doesn’t get eaten.

Here’s the impact of food waste:

  • 38% of food gets wasted.

  • 92 billion pounds of food doesn’t get the chance to feed someone.

  • $473 billion worth of food ends up not eaten.

Now to be clear, much of that waste mentioned above is not the fault of food producers.

Significant waste occurs because of consumers and because of the challenges that arise in the food supply chain.

Food loss versus food waste is featured in this video story from Scripps. It also details challenges that can arise during the process of transporting food from the farm to the dinner plate. Watch that story here. 

AgAmerica released a report that lays out what food producers can do to limit waste, feed more people, and increase their bottom line. The suggestions largely focus on challenging issues like dealing with labor shortages, demand fluctuations, supply chains, storage obstacles, and how to leverage the “ugly” food market.  


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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