Tossed Out: Food Waste in America

 

Credit Harvest Public Media

 

 

Farmers and growers have made gigantic advancements in food production over the last century, ensuring more food flows from farm to table than at any time in human history. Yet, some estimates say as much as 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten.

Food waste is the single-largest source of waste in municipal landfills. An incredible 35 million tons of food were thrown away in 2012, according to the EPA. As it decomposes in landfills, the waste releases methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, 1 in 6 Americans struggles with hunger and the world wonders how to address the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050.

Harvest Public Media, with KBIA and other member stations, are exploring the problem of food waste in America. Watch for lots of coverage online. Harvest Public Media partner public radio stations will air a week-long series. 

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

This is the fifth story in a series of stories by Harvest Public Media on food waste called Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.

Lunch time at Harris Bilingual Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo., displays all the usual trappings of a public school cafeteria: Star Wars lunch boxes, light up tennis shoes, hard plastic trays and chocolate milk cartons with little cartoon cows. It’s pizza day, the most popular of the week, and kids line up at a salad bar before receiving their slice.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

 

This is the fourth story in a series of stories by Harvest Public Media on food waste called Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.  

Grocery stores and restaurants serve up more than 400 billion pounds of food each year, but nearly a third of it never makes it to a stomach.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This is the third story in a series of stories by Harvest Public Media on food waste called Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.

The long line of semi-trucks waiting to get in the gates of the Farmland Foods plant could simply wait around for a few hours to head back, fresh products on board.

The trucks are loaded with hogs from several confinement operations near this factory in Milan, a small town in northeast Missouri. Within just 19 hours, those pigs will be slaughtered, butchered and boxed into cuts that consumers see in the grocery store and in restaurants.

But that effort will use only about half of the animal.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

 

This is the second story in a series of stories by Harvest Public Media on food waste called Tossed Out: Food Waste in America. 

On a wet, grey day in Grinnell, Iowa, the rain beats a rhythm on the metal roof of a packing shed at Grinnell Heritage Farm. Crew member Whitney Brewer picks big bunches of kale out of a washing tank, lets them drip on a drying table and then packs them into cardboard boxes. 

Food waste weighing down U.S. food system

Sep 22, 2014
Pat Ayward / NET News

More from this series: Tossed Out – Food Waste in America

 

It’s a hot summer day outside of Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He’s wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

“You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools,” Chappelle says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none.”

Chappelle is a solid waste consultant with Engineering Solutions & Design in Kansas City, Kan. Local governments hire his crew to literally sort through their garbage and find out what it’s made of. On this day, he’s trudging through Lincoln’s Bluff Road Landfill.