Food Waste Is A Huge Problem, But Italy Is Taking Steps To End It

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

We all know that expiration dates have a very important purpose. No one wants to eat rotten food — yuck!

But at the same time, a lot of the food that supermarkets can’t sell because of that date is actually fine. And that means that a lot of totally edible, nutritious food is getting tossed — all while people go hungry.

In the U.S., a staggering 40 percent of all the food produced goes uneaten, while one in seven Americans don’t have access to food on a regular basis.

That means that not only are we wasting about $45 billion a year, but even cutting down on a fraction of that waste could see 25 million Americans better fed.

That’s a lot of food going to waste.

What’s more, sometimes the food doesn’t even make it to the supermarket because while it’s perfectly tasty and nutritious, it’s just not pretty enough.

There are already organizations collecting and selling “ugly” produce to cut down on food waste, but we really could be doing more.

In fact, some countries are doing more to cut down on wasted food and help those in need.

Check out what’s happening in France, and now in Italy, to make the most out of the food they have, and let us know how you think food waste should be handled!

[H/T: My Modern Met]

In 2010, the U.S. managed to throw out 43 billion pounds of food. And not bad food, either — perfectly edible food that could have fed millions of hungry Americans.

Those 43 billion pounds make up 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S., which means we’re tossing nearly half of what we make. While organic matter is great for composting, most of the food thrown out could be eaten — it’s not ready to be tossed.

You wouldn’t cook a great meal and then throw out half of it, would you?

Right now, children and their families all over the world, including in the U.S., are not getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy. It’s terrible, and when you think about all the food simply going to waste, it’s even worse.

If we reduced the waste by 15 percent — that is, if we only threw out 25 percent of our food instead of 40 percent — we could reliably provide food to 25 million Americans, helping them get the nutrition they need.

And it’s not just a problem in the U.S.

Other countries dump massive amounts of food, too, and recently, some have been trying to combat the problem and help their needier populations.

Right now, needy families rely on charitable and relief organizations and the donations of others. But some countries are looking to make stores and other food producers give directly to families in need.

Some countries are even passing laws that will make this standard procedure, cutting down waste and helping to feed people.

Italy is one of them. The country recently passed a bill that provides tax reductions for businesses that donate unused or wasted food to charity.

Before that, France banned the disposal of unsold but edible food, requiring its donation, and Denmark opened a “food waste grocery store” that sells food that would otherwise end up in the trash.

The bill in Italy was supported on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s hoped that it will cut down on food waste while also helping those in need.

Currently, Italy wastes about 5.1 million tons of food, and they’re hoping to cut that down significantly.

With food shortages becoming a very real threat all over the world, people are hoping these bills will not only provide much-needed relief, but also help people be more responsible about how they buy and think of food.

People are also hoping that the U.S. can come up with a solution for its food waste problem.

It may take a different form than the measures taken in Europe, but everyone agrees that throwing out perfectly good food, especially when others are in need, is something that needs to stop.

By providing vulnerable people with food, we can make a huge difference in the world.

How do you think we can best combat food waste and help those in need? Let us know in the comments, and SHARE these staggering statistics with everyone you know, so that we can all start making a difference!